Ana is a brilliant young woman. She’s a chemist and a PhD student at Oxford University, working on an incredible and likely life changing experiment. Her goal is to find a way to transport matter by opening a worm hole by which said matter will travel. Just imagine the possibilities and applications. She works tirelessly with the help of her friends Liv and Nate, and may be on the verge of, dare I say, success? And while the investigation of a cyber-crime in her department, and incessant harassment from protesters about experiments conducted on University grounds could be seen as an obstacle, Ana is persistent and unyielding. She begins practical experimentation, sending small inanimate items, dozens of marbles to be exact, through the wormhole. The marbles travel, but to where is a mystery…that is until Ana and her colleagues calibrate the transporter in a way that will allow them to fix a coordinate for an end point. Now they are able to successfully transport a Rubik’s Cube a short distance within the lab…EUREKA! The logical step moves them to live subjects like silkworms, mice rabbits and Mr. Tinkles – Liv’s grandmother’s cat. All – tests – successful, except for a squished silkworm…way to go Liv.
Now another obstacle that could very well put a complete halt to further research enters the picture – funding. Scientific discovery comes at a cost, and it’s often a large monetary one. The easiest way to quickly secure funding for such an ambitious project is to “wow” a potential investor, and sending marbles, Rubik’s Cubes, or lab animals while interesting is not likely to be the hook the trio needs. Perhaps a human subject is what they need, or at least perhaps what Ana thinks they need. The trio build a larger device to accommodate a human and then draw lots to see who the lucky traveler will be. In a fitting twist of fate, Ana draw the straw that will send her through the wormhole using the machine she designed.
So they power up the machine, plot the coordinate and send Ana through. Now unlike Seth Brundle’s teleporter in The Fly, she arrives at the point without being turned inside out. Yet, after the experiment, Ana begins to realize that something is definitely amiss. She is unable to make new memories, and her colleagues, Liv and Nate, are increasingly distant, often deterring her from taking part in further research. Ana also is convinced that she is not only being watched being but also followed. And when she is robbed, believes that she is being targeted by animal right protestors that are camped daily, en masse, in front of her lab.
Headaches, confusion, memory loss and paranoia, but the experiment was a success…right? Perhaps something went horribly wrong and not only does Ana not remember, but nobody is telling her either. Perhaps in this case Ana’s experiment needed to be more about “should have” rather than “could have”.
Kier Burrows pulled double duty on Anti Matter, directing the film based on the script he wrote. What he’s created is a tense little low tech sci-fi thriller. It’s always refreshing when a filmmaker can competently create science fiction without requiring an onslaught of high tech visuals and CGI. In such a film as this, the focus needs to be human, and that it definitely is. Granted, the story of transporting matter by teleportation or wormholes or what have you, is not new. But it’s the impact the scientific discovery or technology has on the characters that makes this story successful. The film is rife with paranoia, as Ana seems to feel that there isn’t anyone whom she can trust. Also, the use of flashback sequences aided in creating and then deepening the sense of Ana’s paranoia looming throughout the story. And while there is an aspect of the film I did predict, the motivation behind it remains secret until towards the end. It never becomes languid or dull, as it’s paced very well, while keeping the audience engaged. There’s a touch of Alfred Hitchcock, a hint of Christopher Nolan and perhaps even a dash of Stanley Kubrick mixed into this thrilling formula.
With respect to the acting, the entire cast gave very good performance, specifically the characters at the heart of the story. Yaiza Figueroa, Tom Barber-Duffy and Philippa Carson were all required to make an effective transition in the in the attitudes and personalities of their characters – a feat they all performed skillfully. Figueroa, as Ana, is a picture of brilliance and confidence before the experiment, but afterwards her emotional state unravels causing her to spiral into a paranoid state. Barber-Duffy is an amiable sort, who cares deeply for Ana. But after the experiment something has clearly changed as he seems distant while still trying to remain compassionate and reassuring to Ana. As Liv, Philippa Carson starts off as a rather free spirited, happy go lucky person and seems more than happy to assist in the research and experiments. However she becomes embittered and visibly annoyed by Ana in the time following the experiments.
Visually, the film had a low key and suitably drab appearance, giving it almost a film noir milieu . To the films credit it avoids the cliche bright and shiny and high tech veneer that some sci-fi films heavily films rely on. Such is the case with the series of wormhole devices. None of them look like streamlined high tech machines, rather they looked like machines built and modified in the lab as experimentation progressed – not elegant, but functional and realistic. There is not grandiose effect used to indicate the disappearance of an item into the wormhole or to mark its arrival at it’s destination, which I appreciated more than the over used flash of bright or colorful light or even a gradual dissolution of the item before reassembling elsewhere. The item just…well, disappears and then reappears a split second later at its intended destination.
Burrows has shown great talent as a writer and director by creating a incredibly entertaining science fiction film. When a film such as this can rest on it’s story and performance, there’s absolutely no need to depend on visual effects to distract the audience from any potential shortcomings in the production. Anti Matter was featured at the 2017 SCI-FI-LONDON FILM FESTIVAL last month, and hopefully will be made available to wider audience in the very near future. Suffice to say, my Little Monsters, that I highly recommend giving it a look when the opportunity arises. Who knows, you may be made privy to such info right here at HorrorFuel, or even at Cast Iron Pictures…so keep a weather eye. 7 ½ / 10