05th Mar2014

‘Third Contact’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Tim Scott-Walker, Jannica Olin, Oliver Browne, Cristiana Dell’Anna, Kristina Erdely | Written and Directed by Simon Horrocks


Independent films have a freedom not only to test the limits of the audience but sometimes frustrate them.  This frustration is not in a negative way, but it’s the fact that when independent filmmakers have the freedom to create their own vision, they can decide to take a more cryptic approach to the story process you see on the screen, where the final revelation is the only way to truly understand what you’ve seen.  Third Contact is a film like this, where the focus is on the audience themselves to fully understand what they are seeing.

Third Contact has three important elements which are the psychologist Dr David Wright (Tim Scott-Walker), a suicide the loved one left behind.  When Rene commits suicide his sister Erika (Jannica Olin) travels to London to sort out his things.  Finding his apartment almost empty she finds a list of memories that her brother has written.  Contacting his psychologist Dr David Wright she looks to him for answers but he dealing with his own loss provides little answers.  When another of his patients commits suicide though and they too leave behind a similar list it’s obvious that there is a sinister connection between the two.

With the psychologist played by Tim Scott-Walker being the main character of Third Contact we are provided with a man who at the start of the film has already contemplated suicide having lost the love of his life.  In meeting Erika this gives him something to focus on, but with both characters having similar depressive thoughts it’s not going to end well.  This is where Third Contact hits on the idea of loss and depression and how a person handles it.  The contemplation of suicide as a way to escape the pain is an important element as the idea of quantum suicide is brought in as a plot device.

The idea of quantum suicide touches on the concept of alternative universes, where the idea is that there are two possible outcomes of holding a gun to your head and pulling the trigger.  If the gun goes off and the person dies the person dies, if the gun does not fire then they survive.  quantum suicide at a basic level looks at what happens in the branched off reality where the gun never went off and the person survives, will that be a better life? Third Contact takes a look at this in an interesting way.

To go too deeply into the plot of the film and to look at the actual processes engaged in would spoil Third Contact so it’s hard to really discuss the plot more than I have.  The actual question that the film raises though is interesting and focuses on the characters themselves, the themes of depression and loss push people to extreme lengths to try to get happiness back, but what are the costs to find happiness again? If the outcome was something that we could manipulate for our own means would that make the process any easier?

I found Third Contact an interesting film and very thought-provoking but it is easy to get lost in the narrative if you don’t pay full attention, to the point you may find yourself wanting to re-watch elements to fully understand what took place.  I do enjoy films that take their time though and put the impetus on the audience themselves to actually think about what they are watching and Third Contact definitely does that.

Thought provoking and inventive, Third Contact will stay with you long after you’ve finished watching it, whether that’s wondering what the hell it was about or thinking about the arguments it raises, that is something only you can answer.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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