The cast is dominated by the triumverate of Hawke (Boyhood), Snook (Jessabelle), and Taylor (The Double). Snook and Hawke, in particular, work to create a wonderfully layered and complex set of interactions. And Snook really hammers on all her talents to drive the bulk of the film. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what Snook can do over time. She’s just starting to break-out, and clearly has some chops.
The story itself, whether you’ve read the original or not, is probably fairly obvious to anyone who is a lover of the genre. And, honestly, it doesn’t matter. Watching it all come together is fun. Where the Spierig brothers weakened the movie was in being overly dramatic and coy about what we already assumed or known. It isn’t that they aren’t clever about the whole experience, but there are too many duh-duh-DUHs musically and in framing.
But, it is really more an adaptation problem than a directing one. They were very true to the original material. But that material has been so copied that it isn’t a surprise. They should have accepted that reality and adapted the story to get its core issues up on the screen more cleanly rather than focus on the “mystery that wasn’t.” On the incredible plus side, they really did stick to the original story in a way that no mainstream studio would have dared. They get a huge amount of credit from me for that.
For a 90 minute investment, this is worth your time; for the story and for the performances. This is a solid bit of science fiction with a classic as its roots. They make no apologies for the complexity of the piece and create an entire new world with very little effort. Despite clearly being low-budget, it feels rich and complete. As with their earlier efforts, the brothers show they have vision and ability. Each piece is coming out more polished than the last.