Paul Dudbridge is, in essence, the English Robert Rodriguez of science fiction webisodes with his cottage industry approach. Directing, co-writing, co-editing, producing and working as cinematographer on what is obviously a labour of love. The end result is Horizon, a 10 part web series (with the tagline: In 2015 Everything Changes) which follows the journey of five people who are affected by the sudden appearance of spaceship over Bristol. The series starts on 5 October, 2015 and from the first frame, the viewer is caught up in the events on screen.
Starring, Paul Tonkin, Simon Pierce (who also co-wrote the series along with Paul and Chris Marshfield), Kate Marie Davies, Cassandra Charlick, Alicia Ancel, Kessie Bartlett and Jason Allen, the webisodes, that run from four to 10 minutes in length, look brilliant and the acting, based upon a pre-screening of the first three episodes, is spot on. Combined with exceptional CGI effects this is compelling viewing.
Each segment moves quickly and contains a “bit of business” from certain characters and a bit of action. (There appears to be a “hidden” thread as well, keen eyed viewers will notice a small mark…) The webisodes project a sense of realism, from the use of ITV real-life newscaster Ian Axton (who also played a newscaster for the superlative ITV drama Broadchurch) to the “everyman” characters we watch attempting to come to grips with the “invasion” and their efforts to escape the threat.
Other “bits” includes Davies’ character Nicole, after being helped from the wrecked car by Steven, she grabs her cell (mobile) phone and after checking it, leans close to Steven, peers closely at his mouth and asks, somewhat accusingly, “Have you been drinking?” Positively brilliant bit of business that had this viewer chuckling and nodding while acknowledging that if one were in Steven’s place, it would be so annoying from his point of view.
Later on, Dudbridge uses the cell phone as a scene enhancer and as a sign of just how much the smart phone has become an essential part of our lives. The scene shows that these bits of modern technology control us as well. In the same setting, on top of a carpark where Steven’s younger sister Katie is hanging with her hoodie mates watching the spaceship, when the alien craft defends itself against attacking aircraft, the device shows us what the aliens used; EMP.
This is science fiction presented on an intimate level yet it feels big. The airliner, the escalation of events and that huge alien spaceship hovering over Bristol. Entertainment that delivers enough impressive set pieces to raise goosebumps on the viewer. After the spacecraft sets off the EMP blast there is a jet airliner that comes zooming into the frame, just over the fleeing hoodies. The aircraft is so low that it causes the snotty Katie and big brother Steven to duck for cover. For such short blasts of entertainment this is a wonderful bit of business.
Steven, Dan, Chloe and Nicole set out to gather supplies, and Katie, in order to escape to the country. Despite the shortness of the episodes, the characters are clearly defined and their interactions with one another are revealing.
The cinematography is spot on and, for once, the sound is perfect. The actors are not drowned out by the soundtrack and the “foley” effects do not override the action. The blend of ambient sound along with the dialogue is just right.
Horizon is cracking entertainment that leaves the viewer ready for more. Dudbridge has said there will be a second season if all goes according to plan. These type of shows are what the Internet could have been invented for. Slick, polished and feeling like a big budget production with some stand out acting from the cast, this is magic in a web series.
Horizon starts 5 October and for more information about the show, the crew, the cast and the story head over to horizonwebseries.com. Like the tagline says, “In 2015 everything changes,” check out the series site and see why.