Starring Virginia Gardner, Christina Masterson, Eric Beecroft
Written by A.T. White
Directed by A.T. White
Starfish is the debut feature film from award-winning filmmaker and musician A.T. White. He wrote, directed and scored the film and plans to donate every cent it makes to cancer research. The film stars Virginia Gardner, known for Hulu’s hit show Marvel’s Runaways, who gives an incredibly extraordinary lead performance, as she spends most of Starfish completely alone. Starfish explores grief, loss, and the end of the world with stunning visuals and a fascinating score. Prepare to have this film blow your mind and break your heart.
Gardner plays Aubrey, who is mourning the death of her close friend Grace. As the story unfolds slowly and intimately, we learn about the girls’ friendship and the clues Grace left for Aubrey to find after her death that might stop the world from ending. Aubrey breaks into Grace’s apartment and spends the night there absorbing the memories of her friend. There is a two-way radio beside Grace’s bed and Aubrey wonders who she could have been talking to. In the morning, she realizes a snowstorm has hit and something isn’t right with the town outside. She discovers a tape recorder and some cassette tapes. One has only a number and the other is labeled “This Mixtape Will Save the World.”
The first thing I noticed about this film was the astonishingly beautiful cinematography, which is personal and highlighted by breathtaking colorful displays. The visuals and music together cause Starfish to play out from beginning to end like a song that starts out slow and gets more intense as it goes on, making the use of mixtapes and a prominent score significant. When Aubrey ventures out into the snow, she is attacked by a creature with tentacles, reminiscent of the jellyfish and starfish in Grace’s apartment. I don’t know what the hell is going on, but I’m willing to go wherever this mesmerizing film wants to take me.
The creature effects, and even the
Short, sublime, and sometimes terrifying vignettes accompany Aubrey uncovering each numbered tape at different locations. Some of the brief encounters feature her dead friend Grace and some are just Aubrey alone and vulnerable while the world is ending. Aubrey is not just trying to save the world, she is on a journey of self-discovery, grief and pain. She realizes the only solution to all of this is to listen to all the mixtapes at the same time, so she goes to the radio station where she once worked to play them. This leads Aubrey to finally find Grace’s last message to her and the final clue to saving the world as she knows it.
Starfish managed to take me through the full range of emotions and I’m not ashamed to admit that I found myself sobbing by the end. The awe-inspiring cinematography, the music, and Gardner’s performance blend perfectly to provide the ultimate poignant visual experience. The film succeeds at being a well-written, intriguing horror film, as well as a thought-provoking glimpse into the human psyche from the perspective of a young woman who thinks she has lost everything. Starfish is a hauntingly gorgeous film.
Stafish is a visually stunning, Lovecraftian journey into grief, monsters, mixtapes, and one girl’s desperate attempt to save the world as she knows it.