Sunday, 26 August 2018

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: IT LIVES



79. “Hello, Roy... How are you feeling today?”



26/08/2018




On the way to buy this film, having been recommended it by a friend, I was listening to a radio documentary about the events that led George Orwell to write “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” With “It Lives,” also known as “Twenty Twenty-Four,” being the story of a Priority One “Undertaker” scientist preparing a bunker for restarting society after an inevitable nuclear conflict, I felt I had unwittingly prepared myself rather well. However, this setting is more the springboard into some good horror genre fun, and a better fit for the name “It Lives.”

Played by Andrew Kinsler, Roy is the scientist that lives in the bunker, alongside a computer he names “Arthur.” The location is cold and emotionless, filmed in blue-and-white, and filled with tunnels, and Roy’s life there is suitably sterile and methodical. Arthur could have become a copy of H.A.L., from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but instead speaks in text on a screen, which you come to accept very quickly. Often, we see Arthur’s screen as a flashing green cursor, awaiting input, and with Roy as the only human in the entire film, bar a single video conversation from someone “up top” to say the situation is becoming worse, information is very sparse.


It would be extremely easy to say that nothing happens in “It Lives,” but the same could be said of “Seinfeld” without it ever becoming an issue, and with Roy’s mind working overtime to fill the gaps in the strange occurrences within the bunker, as air conditioning fails, video surveillance is lost, and what comes from just “seeing things,” Roy becomes his own jump scare. When the only message found from the surface is found to be an SOS message, and “it lives,” jumping to conclusions turns into leaps. Arthur could be the voice of reason, telling Roy to be rational, but while Roy can tell Arthur his dreams are not real, Arthur cannot convince Roy he is seeing things. When the bunker is breached, and Arthur is out of action, Roy is left to face himself and his thoughts.

“It Lives,” is a very intense film that rewards your attention. What begins as a science fiction story in the vein of “Moon” and “The Martian” unveils itself as a carefully would psychological horror film, written and directed with a tight grip by Richard Mundy in his debut feature film. Once you think Roy is about to wake up from what could be one long hallucination, it could easily be the point where what reality is left for Roy loops around, to start again. Blood and guts may be one thing for a horror film, but blood and paranoia makes for a lovely change.


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