A Helical (2020) – Film Review

 

A Weird & Absorbing Journey

A Helical is not a film for everyone. It’s a really interesting, thought provoking journey but it’s also one that challenges you to look beyond the surface level and come up with your own interpretation on what’s happening on-screen. At times the long scenes of walking can feel a little tedious but the haunting score, big ideas surrounding patterns and the universe itself, along with some really impressive camera work should be enough to look past this and enjoy the ride.

The story itself is simple but mysterious, revolving around a strange traveler arriving on a planet and starting his journey. On the way, he talks to various different ethereal beings in seemingly cryptic conversations that paint a larger picture around what’s actually going on. Between these segments are the aforementioned walking scenes and while interesting and technically very well done, for those looking for a compelling and action-packed story, A Helical is not that sort of film.

This sci-fi short actually works a lot more effectively as a technical showcase of creativity and in that respect, the film will almost certainly keep you watching until the end. The different camera effects, dutch angles, dolly movements and even split-screen mirror shots do a wonderful job at keeping up that trippy, off-kilter feel the entire film manages to achieve. There’s one segment late on that’s some of the best camera work I’ve seen in an Indie title in quite some time. It’s incredibly well done and the cuts between are seamless; watching through to this moment is reason enough to pick this up.

Although there isn’t a lot of dialogue to chew through, what is interesting though is just how much atmosphere A Helical manages to conjure up across its run-time. Some of that is partly thanks to the haunting score that keeps up a consistent motif right the way through. It builds up to a crescendo around the third act (where that impressive camera section is location) before mellowing out for the big climax.

One of the bigger problems with the film though comes from some of the hard edits between landscapes. While visually very impressive and featuring a great blend of colours and visuals, some of the cuts can feel a little jarring. Early on the scenery changes from a field to an area full of large triangular shapes while another time a quaint house on a hill cuts to a metallic bridge. Although you do always get the feel that this film is purposefully moving forward, these cuts are sometimes a little jarring.

With numerous questions raised right the way through and a consistently eerie atmosphere, A Helical may look simple on the surface but there’s actually a fair amount to like about this. It’s not perfect, and some will almost certainly dislike this, but for those who can take to the technicality and themes explored, A Helical is certainly worth the trip.

 

A Helical will release on Vimeo on Demand and Amazon on the 12th May 2020


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