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Radius (FrightFest 2017)

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Radius

RadiusStarring Diego Klattenhoff, Charlotte Sullivan

Directed by Caroline Labrèche, Steeve Léonard


Awakening in the middle of nowhere next to a car wreck, Liam (Klattenhoff) finds himself encumbered by that favourite of all dramatic afflictions: amnesia.

With no idea who he is or how he came to be involved in such a wreck, Liam wanders alone in search for help. Quickly, however, it becomes clear that we’re in dark territory – as everyone Liam encounters is dead, their eyes bleached a disturbing white.

Believing the cause to be some kind of viral attack, Liam makes his way to the address found on his ID cards and begins to batten down the hatches… but the truth soon dawns. The cause is him, and any living creature that wanders within a 50-foot radius of him instantly drops dead.

It’s a compelling idea that fuels Radius – one that’s high concept, yet delivered with low key contemplation by directing duo Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard. The story isn’t so much concerned with focusing on the why and how of Liam’s affliction, but on the inter- and intrapersonal effects it has on him – especially when fellow amnesiac Jane (Sullivan) shows up.

Somehow, Jane isn’t affected by Liam’s invisible deadly influence – in fact, it’s completely nullified as long as she remains close to him. Attempting to piece together their memories, and an answer to the current situation, both Liam and Jane find themselves pursued by the authorities, who suspect Liam to be involved in an intentional killing spree.

And that’s where any further discussion of the film’s plot will end, as to go deeper would be to do a disservice to any reading this review beforehand. Suffice it to say that unexpected revelations are made which turn the story almost entirely on its head – yet, what’s most impressive is the directors’ steadfast refusal to allow their film to revert into standard thriller fare.

Instead, Radius is a quieter than expected rumination on humanity, regret, relationships, and purpose; our pasts, our present, our future – who we are and what we think. Even who we think we are, in fact.

But it’s also this impressive weight that holds the film down. Leads Klattenhoff and Sullivan imbue a heavy authenticity to their performances – ably demonstrated in one particular sequence that sees the pair forcibly parted, Liam powerless to do anything but cry out in anguish at what is about to happen to the innocent people around him – however, the script rarely allows our main duo to hit certain emotional nuances. Even as romance evolves between the two, the line of expression feels mostly flat – so whilst Radius’ narrative is rarely less than absorbing, it’s oddly one-note for much of the second act.

Somewhat uninspiring, too, is the explanation behind the supernatural events. Sure, this ultimately isn’t the point of the film, but answers are sparse, and the revelatory sequence teases much too closely on the line of outright cheese.

The aforementioned sense of flatness is what keeps Radius from punching through into greatness. Don’t take this criticism incorrectly – the film is very well paced and never tedious, and here we have a surprisingly deep and emotional story with a great setup and a finale that should, by all indicators, be one that elicits an emotive smack in the gut.

Sadly, it doesn’t quite hit that hard… yet, Radius deserves an enthusiastic nod of approval for offering an original story well told, through no lack of effort by all involved. Genre fans looking for something a little different, along with a compelling mystery to guess their way through, should find plenty to enjoy in Radius’ heady blend of supernatural shocks and touching human drama.

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User Rating 3 (17 votes)

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