Directed and co-written by Shane Abbess (written with Brian Cachia) and starring Daniel MacPherson, Luke Hemsworth, Luke Ford and Bren Foster (who has been garnering a lot of attention as SCPO Wolf Taylor on the US TNT drama The Last Ship) Infini is an Australian treat posing as an odd sort of horror/science fiction/thriller. Set in a future where the vast majority of the world is poor and forced to take dangerous high paying jobs to survive, the film follows an elite search and rescue team on a special mission.
The film opens by informing the audience that methods of space travel have advanced to such a degree that people travel as “data” via the Slipstream. Volunteers, aka poor people in those dangerous jobs, have devices (an APEX) attached to their central nervous system that allows them to use this mode of travel. We are also told that corruption of data is commonplace, as are deaths caused by this controversial method of space travel.
Infini starts with a group of people being questioned under bright lights and behind glass walls. The tone is frantic, loud, aggressive and panicky, the importance of this opening sequence will become relevant, and clearer, at the end of the film. The next thing on screen is Whit Carmichael and his pregnant wife. This is Carmichael’s first day in his new job. His wife is concerned and worried about this new high paying but dangerous position.
Before his first mission, things go catastrophically wrong. A group of soldiers go on a mission and return, their numbers are decimated and the survivor’s are bloody, in shock, and very volatile. The station is put on lockdown and put under lethal quarantine. Whit is slipstreamed to the place the soldiers came from and a new team are sent to retrieve him.
There are a lot of things going on here. Time is very relevant. The rules of the film are that the person using the data travel system is gone for seconds on the station, while on the actual mission their time at the destination equals hours. This factor becomes important as the film progresses.
Infini seems to combine John Carpenter’s The Thing (or Howard Hawk’s version The Thing from Another World, sans James Arness dressed as a giant carrot.) although Carpenter’s setting; the frozen arctic, does seem to be mimicked here. The planet the “perfect” organism calls home is a deep freeze where the natural habitat is icy and uninhabitable.
Abbess and Cachia have come up with a scenario that delivers some pretty decent horror and science fiction thrills that also requires the viewer to think. By the end of the film one does not know if the whole thing was a result of corrupted data, a perfect parasitic organism, space madness or something else entirely.
Performances by all the actors were spot on. Rather interestingly, most of the cast appear to be refugees from the Aussie soap <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094481/?ref_=nv_sr_1" target="_blank"Home and Away. The film clips along at a good pace and while there are moments that jar, mainly because of the plot and the storyline rather than bad editing or holes, these incidents help to keep the unease and uncertainty on line.
If there is any complaint at all about the film it would be the rather wordy and philosophic speech given by the main protagonist toward the very end of the film. It does not really fit the scenario, although, that could be matter of misinterpretation, if one considers the data corruption plot thread.
When the film ends, the viewer will be uncertain as to just what happened to the crew who went to rescue Carmichael and Whit himself. This ambiguous end is the frosting on this outer and inner space trippy vision and makes the film work on many different levels. It is precisely the reason that I adore Australian cinema, as the filmmakers down under specialize in thinking so far outside the box that it may as well not exist.
Infini will not be to everyone’s taste. For those who like a film that makes them think and ponder about what they’ve just seen, this is a 4 out of 5 star bit of brilliance. Streaming on US Netflix right now horror and science fiction fans should pop some corn and prepare to be entertained and perhaps just a bit confused.
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