Cinema/TV, Film Notes

SciFi London review – After the Lethargy

My notes on After the Lethargy, which screened at SciFi London.

Spanish writer-director Marc Carreté made a strong debut with the unconventional possession movie Asmodexia (2014), but this stab at an alien encounter picture is a more obvious, rather strident effort which spends a lot of time wandering in the woods and then through familiar (if well-used) derelict tunnels before turning into a rerun of my least favourite torture porn sub-genre, the forced mutant pregnancy picture (cf: the Hills Have Eyes remake, Timber Balls, Frontiere(s)).  It even cops one of its twists from The Hills Run Red, a prime example of forced mutant pregnancy exploitation.  These things make you miss the relative sensitivity and subtlety of XTRO or Inseminoid.

Journalist Sara Hamilton (Andrea Guasch) sets out to investigate a wooded area and a decommissioned underground military base in the supposed Rocky Mountains where a Roswell-style crash once took place and there have been rumours of alien breeding experiments … though everyone says there’s more danger from sexually active bears.  Sara is lured into the mystery by a ufological documentary, The Tetis Files, delivered in a mysterious videocassette, which along with the lack of mobile phones or internet conspiracy theorists suggests this doesn’t have a present-day setting.  Sara and Joe the Ranger (Joe Manjon) wander around, bumping into the alarming goon Ed (Ramon Canals), the near-feral (but supposedly harmless) son of disappeared mad scientists, and stalked by a CGI ET gremlin which has a decent enough Outer Limits-style design but a very familiar bag of wall-crawling tricks.

A parallel plot brings in female cop Sam (Liliana Cabal, the vampire from the interesting She Walks at Night) and a doomed partner, who have a heavy-handed conversation about how death can strike at any time just before it does – San seems like an afterthought to pad out the running time, since her plot never quite intersects with Sara’s, and there are a couple of other alien-injected, shackled abductee brood mothers in the tunnels.  We also get a maniac nurse (Sue Flack), an irritated policeman (Julius Cotter) and the manic host of the documentary (Mark Schardan), all standing around and spouting awkward, written-in-a-second-language dialogue in a manner so stylised and strange it almost goes beyond bad acting into a kind of dissociative, performative choice.  Early cutaways to the heroine’s hysterical mother (Lucy Tillett) trying to nag her (sensibly) into not looking for aliens are so overemphatic that the film briefly seems as unbalanced as its characters.  That’s not enough for me to enjoy another film in which bedraggled women are chained up in a basement and inseminated on filthy mattresses, though – and a brief revival of ‘80s-style parturition gore as one subject cuts her hybrid alien foetus out of her womb hardly makes things better.  The unappealing title also has the feel of something random stuck on at the last minute.

Here’s the SciFi London listing.



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