An Enjoyably Familiar Sci-Fi Flick
At first glance, OtherLife looks like another generic moderately budgeted film in the bloated sci-fi genre. Although it borrows heavily from other media forms, the execution is generally very good in this suitably dark sci-fi film. There are hints of influence from Black Mirror here, with a grim tone and a thematically strong plot proving once again you don’t need a big budget to tell a compelling story. Its helped too by strong performances from the two lead actors who’s tension stricken relationship provides the meat of the conflict at play here. Its not perfect; a slightly chaotic ending and a familiar premise make OtherLife’s story an enjoyable ride but also one that feels like its been told before.
The story gravitates around the invention of a brand new drug that revolutionises the way we experience memories. Using coding and a modified eye-drop to administer a sleep-like state, OtherLife explores the possibility of experiencing a programmed memory in a virtual reality setting inside our brain. With such a breakthrough technology understandably gaining attention from big investors, tension rises between the drug’s creators, Ren (Jessica De Gouw) and Sam (T.J. Power), over the best way to use the drug. What ensues is a cerebrally challenging film with a decent narrative, cleverly stylised in a well paced sci-fi that explores the ramifications and advantages of the technology.
There’s no denying that OtherLife’s plot borrows heavily from other intellectual properties. Recent sci-fi prison thriller Infinity Chamber, the Black Mirror episode Playtest, Inception and Rememory all feel like they’ve been blended together and crafted into what OtherLife sets itself up as. Whilst this certainly doesn’t help in terms of originality, the interesting way the film plays out, complete with a fascinating duel between the two lead characters does just about enough to help the film stand out from the mass of sci-fi on the market.
Whilst OtherLife isn’t likely to win awards anytime soon, its still an enjoyable sci-fi and one that does a pretty good job of trying to establish itself from the patchwork of ideas it borrows heavily from. Decent performances from Ren and Sam certainly help sell the uneasy alliance between the two and keep the film ticking along at a good pace. Although the plot is straight forward enough to avoid any big surprises or twists, OtherLife still manages to entertain for vast periods of its run time even if it doesn’t score points for originality.