Starring Yaiza Figueroa, Tom Barber-Duffy, Philippa Carson, James Farrar, Noah Maxwell Clarke, Yolanda Vazquez
Directed by Keir Burrows
A good mixture of horror and sci-fi can be difficult to obtain. While both often have a foundation in the fear of the unknown, horror usually focuses on primal instincts and urges whereas science fiction is often centered around the pursuit of something grander and more cerebral*. When those ideals come together in clever ways, the two genres marry into a cohesive unit that can raise the hairs on the back of your neck while at the same time stimulate your brain and leave you guessing until the very end.
Enter Anti Matter, a sci-fi/thriller that plays with your expectations and leads you down a hole where everything rests upon a bed of uncertainty. The film follows Ana, a PhD student at Oxford who, during her research, stumbles across the ability to teleport objects from one spot to another. She and two other students, Liv and Nate, quickly push through the applications of this discovery, including live animal testing. But when the University picks up on what may be going on, they realize they need to test their invention on a human subject before their research will be shut down or taken away from them.
Ana ends up as the test subject and things seemingly go just fine. However, soon after the experiment, she begins to have trouble creating new memories and begins feeling deceived by her partners. Furthermore, strange, almost surreal events begin taking place, including her place being robbed by a person wearing a rather sinister monkey mask, a police investigation, strained relationships with her family and friends, and more. As she tries to grasp the truth, it only seems to keep slipping more and more out of her grasp.
What impressed me the most about Anti Matter is how professional it looks. Writer/director Keir Burrows clearly wanted to make the film feel as “studio” as possible, which included impressive sets and engaging visuals. From that perspective, this film will undoubtedly keep the viewer’s attention.
The writing is solid enough but the sound mix is a bit off. It very much feels like each character’s voices are too forward in the mix and not a part of the world they live in. And my biggest complaint comes in the form of an exciting but completely out of place chase sequence. There’s a point where Ana pushes her burglar out of her apartment window where they fall a couple of stories into a garbage pile and then start running through alleys, vaulting over cars, and leaping over rails. The whole scene feels like it belongs in a Bourne film rather than a cerebral sci-fi/thriller and while I appreciate Ana being a badass, nothing before or after this sequence suggests that this is natural to her character.
Minor gripes aside, Anti Matter is a sci-fi thriller that blends Jacob’s Ladder and Memento with fascinating concepts. For his full-length directorial debut, Burrows has offered something incredibly impressive and we should all be keeping an eye out for whatever he has next up his sleeve.
Anti Matter will be released in the UK on July 10th and September 8th in the United States.
*This is an incredibly basic generalization and not reflective of all titles in either genre. I’m well aware that there are mind-bending horror films and very basic sci-fi titles (I’m looking at you, Wing Commander…).