Starring Danijela Tepic, Josip Fackovic, Alan Hrehoric, Tamara Kefelja
Directed by Ivan Rogar
Vektor may have been filmed in 2010, but in light of recent events in Japan, it feels a bit as if it were put together over the past few weeks to capitalize on radiation fears that are sweeping the globe. It's chillingly topical and timely. The line between fantasy and reality blurs just enough to make the viewer pause here and there to think about the likelihood of events in the film actually happening. Unfortunately, Vektor fails to progressively convey the necessary emotional weight and empathy that's required to totally engage its audience. It's ambitious but too muddled to successfully follow through on its goals.
It's not made entirely clear at the outset what's going on in the world in which Vektor takes place, but apparently (according to the synopsis provided) a nuclear war is being waged between the East and West, resulting in climate changes and "forbidden zones" of extreme radiation. We're first introduced to Kristina (Tepic), who is ill from radiation poisoning, when her father calls frantically on the phone, "I'm sorry! I wanted to see you again. Help me!" Despite the risks, she and two men (one a scientist and the other an old friend, possibly an ex-lover - it's not made entirely clear) head to his home. They're dropped off at the edge of a wooded area and prepare to hike their way there as dad lives in a dangerous no-man's land. They wear gas masks and carry weapons. The scientist (Hrehoric) monitors the situation and lets them know when it's safe to remove their masks, which occurs as they draw closer to Kristina's father's house. What they find there isn't pretty.
Radiation isn't the only risk our trio faces. Medical testing on humans has been occurring simultaneously with the nuclear disaster, and you know what that means: infected people on the loose causing mayhem! As Kristina and her companions prepare to leave, a woman (Kefelja) covered in blood appears virtually out of nowhere. She's more than just your typical zombie, though; she can speak and influence events around her. Sadly, however, this scenario isn't put to much good use as it's at this point that Vektor begins to fall prey to one of the most common flaws we see in indie films - more style than substance. Yes, it's interestingly shot and visually stimulating, but scenes are stretched out to the breaking point with too little meaningful dialogue to ease the tension and provide a payoff. Kristina is so restrained that she becomes basically a nonentity.
Dream sequences and religious debate add to the "padded" feeling although at least during the debate we have an actual conversation taking place; it just doesn't really pan out. I wanted to know more about the people I was watching, especially the friend, Gabriel (Fackovic, who also wrote the screenplay). All the actors do a good job with what they're given, but one gets the feeling that if they'd had a better script to work with, they could have taken things to the next level. Again, the only word I can think of to describe their characterizations is restrained. No one talks much about what's happening. It isn't realistic given the circumstances, which results in the audience losing interest in what the characters are going through.
On the plus side Rogar shows promise as an imaginative, creative director. The washed out black and white palette he opted to utilize is quite effective; it, combined with the electronic/industrial music soundtrack from Kult of Red Pyramid (Rogar and Fackovic's band), sets the right tone right away. However, over-using extreme close-ups and hand-held shaky cam adds little to the mood other than an overall queasiness that's unrelated to what's taking place onscreen. At some points I seriously felt like I was getting seasick from all the movement. Nonetheless, the last 10 or 15 minutes -- a bizarre mash-up of The Ring and Night of the Living Dead -- does provide some compensation to those who have stuck it out. I'm just not sure the unsteady, inconsistent 80-minute long ride to get there is worth it.
1 1/2 out of 5
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