'Terminus': Film Review

Terminus - H 2016
Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
Too derivative for its own good.

A meteorite is revealed to have mysterious healing properties in Marc Furmie's sci-fi thriller.

A close encounter of a very healing kind is the major plot element of Terminus, Marc Furmie's low-budget sci-fi thriller that doesn't quite live up to its thematic ambitions. Although it boasts an admirable understatedness for a genre in which bigger is usually mistaken for better, the film is ultimately too low-key and slow-moving for its own good.

Set in America's heartland but actually filmed in Australia, the story concerns three main characters: David (Jai Koutrae), a widowed car mechanic with a drinking problem; his independent-minded teenage daughter Annabelle (Kendra Appleton); and his best friend Zach (Todd Lasance), a veteran who lost his leg in combat.

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Driving home one night after a guilt-fueled bender, David suffers a near fatal car accident upon witnessing a fiery meteor fall to earth. The organism he encounters turns out to have miraculous healing powers, as evidenced by David's finding out that the kidney he donated to his late wife (Katherine Hicks), who he sees in visions, has regenerated. Even more miraculously, Zach, after accidentally touching the extraterrestrial, soon discovers that his leg is growing back.

This wouldn't be a science-fiction movie about extraterrestrials without a subplot involving a government conspiracy. In this instance it's the NSA — not what you're thinking, but actually the National Science Agency — which is highly interested in the meteorite for its possible use in a raging Middle Eastern war.  

Meanwhile, David, no doubt inspired by Richard Dreyfuss' character in Spielberg's classic, becomes obsessed with a mysterious project having to do with his otherworldly encounter.

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Although Terminus is more sophisticated than the typical sci-fi offering, it never shakes off its air of derivativeness. Still, it deserves points for effort, with director/co-screenwriter Furmie achieving a lot with a low budget and the performers maintaining credible American accents. As for why the film couldn't be set in its native country, well, we all know that the U.S. lends itself so much better to conspiracy theories.

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Production: Storm Vision Entertainment, Eclectik Vision, Storm Alley Entertainment, Maddfilms
Cast: Jai Koutrae, Kendra Appleton, Bren Foster, Todd Lasance
Director: Marc Furmie
Screenwriters: Marc Furmie, Shiyan Zheng, Gabriel Dowrick
Producers: Tim Maddocks, Brett Thornquest
Executive producers: Sidonie Abbene, Shane Abbess
Director of photography: Kieran Fowler
Production designer: Jamie Morris
Editor: Gabriel Dowrick
Costume designer: Leon Krasenstein
Composer: Brian Cachia
Casting: Marianne Jade, Leigh Pickford

Not rated, 93 minutes