31st Aug2021

DWF 2021: ‘The Alternate’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Ed Gonzalez Moreno, Natalia Dominguez, Syra McCarthy, Patrice Binaisa, Phillip Caires | Written and Directed by Alrik Bursell

It’s no secret that I am a pretty big sci-fi fan. Done well, the genre is easily the most compelling, no matter the budget you are working with. Look at Primer – little to no money yet I would say I watch that film once, maybe twice, a year. I personally have always felt that our affinity for science fiction lies in the simplicity of a story played out on a seemingly outrageous scale. Often the best form of storytelling is the one that makes us question what would we do if we could…

The Alternate had one of those concepts that gets me invested from the off, a seemingly low key, surface level, yet highly relatable story, of the conflict that lies within. That and I had seen some fantastic stills of worm-holey/portal goodness. All of this accompanied by the fact that, as of late, we have been getting some cracking lower budget high concept sci-fi flicks and I was down to give The Alternate a shot…

Jake Del Rio (Ed Gonzalez Moreno) is an ambitious film maker… Well he would be had he not fallen into the trappings of commercial and corporate company videography. He is somewhat frustrated but surviving. Shortly after we meet Jake he inadvertly discovers and creates a portal to another reality via some wonky camera tech issue. He soon discovers that on the other side is his perfect life. His other him has made his passion project and thriving, his other wife Kris (Natalia Dominguez) has her own buisness and they have even found time for the child they long for. It’s not long before Jake begins to wonder how much greener is the grass on the other side?

As you might expect the bulk of where The Alternate lives and breathes is with the dual performance from Moreno as Jake and Alt Jake. I’m not going to sit here and tell you his performances are spot on but dual roles must be a task and I honestly felt that while both these men were the same man, they were very different. It would be easy for an actor to rest on his laurels when you come to the “turn” but Moreno plays this as all in, all the way to the end and I throughly enjoyed his performance.

Shout out also to Natalia Dominguez as his wife Kris who again is sporting two roles and does great in both!

The Alternate has a simple concept really but as always a simple concept perfectly executed can be something special. Director Alrik Bursell has come out of the gate very strong here after a run of short movies and pulled a low key epic spectacle out of the bag. There is a very strong team at work here with some pretty gnarly portal effects that are better than most blockbusters; a wonderful stirring score that adds a very real pallaple depth to some scenes; and then of course I must tip my cap to the DOP because this movie looks gorgeousand does a great job of having two completely different tones yet one is slowly seeping into the other.

I’m a big fan of The Alternate, it’s a quick and easy watch that respects its audience enough to know that “we will get it”. There is a universe here that I would be excited to explore and a very rich concept that I can get on board with.

I would give The Alternate a very strong recommendation and folks need to the film if and when they get a chance, especially if your a bit of a geek like myself. I nearly settled on a 4 but THAT ending was hilarious, glorious and absolutely unexpected so Bursell’s film gets…

****½  4.5/5

The Alternate screened as part of this years Dances With Films Festival.


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