'Anti Matter': Film Review
A female scientist finds herself unmoored after undergoing teleportation in Keir Burrows' sci-fi thriller.
You can practically feel yourself getting smarter while watching Keir Burrows’ brainy feature debut. The tale of a female scientist who finds herself emotionally adrift after subjecting herself to an experiment involving teleportation, Anti Matter features enough scientific tech-speak to fuel a graduate course. Its intriguing premise handled in uncommonly stylish fashion, this low-budget sci-fi drama should please discerning genre aficionados.
Yaiza Figueroa plays the central role of Ana, a Hispanic-American Oxford student who, along with her colleagues Nate (Tom Barber-Duffy) and Liv (Philippa Carson), manages to discover a wormhole that enables the teleportation of objects, beginning with a simple molecule, through space. “We’re going to be gods!” one member of the team proclaims, while another not too modestly points out, “This is the single biggest thing that mankind has ever done.”
Aided by Liv’s ability to hack loads of desperately needed computing power, the team transports increasingly larger items until, inevitably, a human volunteer becomes necessary. Drawing the short straw, Ana becomes the latest subject of the daring experiments.
Needless to say, complications ensue, with Ana waking up in her apartment feeling disoriented and unable to remember what has happened to her. Her previously friendly cohorts are now tight-lipped and disagreeable, and strange events begin occurring, including her apartment being invaded by an intruder wearing a gorilla mask. Police detectives investigating a cybertheft begin interrogating her, and she finds herself bedeviled by animal rights activists, many of them wearing masks similar to the intruder’s. Even Ana’s phone conversations with her elderly mother (Yolanda Vazquez) begin to take on a surreal, menacing quality.
Achieving a lot on an obviously low budget, writer-director Burrows provides a tense atmosphere to the ambiguous proceedings (which admittedly could be trimmed a little). Like the best sci-fi, the film transcends its genre aspects with deeper themes, in this case explorations into the mysteries of memory and self-identification. As mesmerizingly played by Figueroa, Ana proves a deeply sympathetic heroine, her existential angst becoming increasingly desperate in the film’s final act that leads to an effective twist ending.
Boasting impressive visuals and special effects, Anti Matter overcomes its familiar narrative aspects with an imaginative style that fully draws us into its complex storyline. The film proves that sophisticated sci-fi can be terrifying without relying on cheap jump scares.
Production company: Cast Iron Picture Co.
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment
Cast: Yaiza Figueroa, Philippa Carson, Tom Barber-Duffy, James Farrar, Noah Maxwell Clarke, Yolanda Vazquez
Director-screenwriter: Keir Burrows
Producer: Dieudonnee Burrows
Executive producers: Dieudonnee Burrows, Keir Burrows, Josephine Rose
Director of photography: Gerry Vasbenter
Production designer: Jorge Blanco-Munoz
Editor: Rhys Barter
Costume designer: Daniela Fabrizi
Composer: Edwin Sykes