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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having seen the trailer for Gene X months in advance, I was expecting a
film in the style of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace. Unfortunately, this
turns out to be a very low budget movie taking itself far too seriously
in trying to create some sense of suspense and resulting in nonsense.
The opening title sequence is easily the most dramatic part of Gene X.
Do yourself a favour and press STOP after the first two minutes and you
will have a far more enjoyable cinematic experience than continuing on
to the establishing scene.
The plot of Gene X involves a bumbling young scientist, Dr Tom Gray, working in a laboratory-seconding-as-a-lavatory, whose genetic testing on two (2) rabbits somehow heralds the results of a marvelous cancer-curing goo. However, as with all Dr Jekyllian projects, taking this substance triggers moments of violent insanity in the takeree, insanity which can only be sated by a stranglee shouting "I know you're in there somewhere! It's me! Your friend! Your FRIEND!" (or to that effect)... otherwise the only known cure appears to be a bullet through the head. Of course, the hospital in which Dr Gray is conducting his research claims the cure as their own and attempts to sell it off as all corrupt-and-drug-addicted-corporate-types do. Said corporate type is dating a nurse in the hospital, who seduces Dr Gray in order to get to the cure, as she is emotionally attached to a tumour-ridden orphan in the hospital who can somehow afford private health cover. Tensions rise as the affair is discovered and the battle to stop Gene X escaping into the clutches of pharmaceutical companies rages onward towards a most yawnworthy climax.
The film is sluggish in creating tension throughout the rickety plot line. Every few minutes a character's dialogue will be poorly dubbed. Inappropriate, Yamaha-keyboard-esquire music stings punctuate moments of the protagonist and his love interest with the comedic prowess of Trey Parker. And the acting of the minor characters is truly appalling... especially the senior ones. "Oooh, I'm shaking like a leaf." Hilarious! The spasming of the bedridden toadfaced chemokid is also pants-wettingly funny.
The saving grace of Gene X comes from the lead actors Patrick Magee and Ayse Tezel. Both hold up the narrative by making the best of some, at times, horrendously corny lines. Stunt doubles for sex scenes and scooter-riding are terrible, but if you approach Gene X without high expectations you are sure to enjoy the post-production ineptness and unintentional one-liner classics. "It smells like... the ocean?"
Anyone who has ever nodded off with terminal tedium over a medical novel from the likes of Robin Cook will respond to this genially sarcastic take on the cliché tale of young-medical-researcher-who-goes-too-far. Director Simpson - also, like George "Mad Mad" Miller, an MD -has read every one of these tedious tomes, not to mention seeing the films adapted from them, eg, COMA, LOOKER, and comes to the director's chair fully armed with the scalpel to dissect them. Addressing tropes familiar to readers of contemporary sf novels like Greg Bear's BLOOD MUSIC, he explores them with the same gleeful imagination that Peter Jackson brought to his pre-LORD OF THE RINGS films like BAD TASTE. Viewers savvy enough to tune into Simpson's wavelength will find GENE-X a diverting experience.
This is an entertaining story told well. The first feature film from experienced director Martin Simpson brings together a good story brought to life by a talented cast. Although sometimes compared to hospital thrillers like Stephen Kings 'Animal Hospital-the beginning', in my opinion Gene-X was closer to science fact than science fiction. I found interesting background to the story, the cast and the production crew on their website:and liked their Facebook page. The film is based on the novel 'Brains' also written by Martin Simpson. The book is described as 'deliciously trashy, a fast paced, plausibly woven, compelling read.' Neither film nor book take themselves too seriously and both are heavy on irony with many references to the thriller genre greats. Both are available from Amazon. Ideal downloads for that long airline trip!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really enjoyed this movie when I saw it on the big screen in it's world premiere at the London-Australian film festival at the Barbican in London. It was really a romance, not a horror film, but there were some scary bits and some gore, but not over the top. It also was about how big companies can take over someone's idea and use them up. Magnusson was used to getting his way with everybody, but when he fell in love with Casey, he couldn't manipulate her and it drove him crazy. And how Casey couldn't decide between two guys was interesting - like no-one can be everything to her. She just wanted the little boy to live. I liked how the characters were trying to do good, but somehow things just kept going bad for them. I thought the ending was great. Go low budget film makers, do more like this.
Everything starts with the script. Major studios are infamous for throwing hundreds of millions at appalling scripts hoping to create something 'sponge worthy' - as Elaine from Seinfeld would say. This is a low budget Aussie thriller which gathers a talented cast, deftly put through their paces by director Martin Simpson. The story may start out in the traditional sense with a young naive medical research intern working late desperately trying to solve the mystery of a new virus however, the film begins its series of twists and turns from there. I am told that it was shot on high definition digital and this may show with some of the lighting and occasionally the sound may appear thin or hollow. However, what the film may lack in SFX is more than compensated by the panache of the over-all completed project.
Gene-X captures the essence of Australian move making at it's best. The script is not only eloquently written it is thought provoking and entertaining. The many fine actors in this movie raise Gene-X to an international level. It is sensitively directed. Gene-X makes the viewer laugh, sit tense with anticipation and hold their breath as they are taken on a roller-coaster ride of suspense, intrigue and tortured romance. I found that to truly appreciate all the subtle nuances that run through this complex and captivating movie, one must watch it more than once. There is always something new to be seen! Definitely a more than once to watch movie!
Gene X is a fast paced breakneck ride through turbulant emotional highs
and gritty realistic lows, about the conflict we all face in
our.....sorry i cant go on.
This is quite possibly the worst movie i have ever seen, and i complain about a lot of movies.The dialogue was stilted, hackneyed and sounds as if it was lifted from an abandoned production of "Apocalypse Now - The musical" circa 1988 ("it smells like the ocean" cue Kramer and his cologne).The soundtrack was too bad to be considered elevator Muzak, and even hard core ravers would be hard pressed to pop enough drugs to make this movie palatable.
I was left with a distinct feeling of unease, realizing that this was the movie i had awaited, that had screened in Cannes and that had several well known Australian "personalities".Finally i thought, a contemporary Australian film to demonstrate our ability to produce truly world class scripts, even if we cannot afford the Hollywood production values.Guess ill just keep waiting.
Having said that, it is worth watching just to see how truly awful it really is, i mean i was really quite amazed the producers didn't have there legs broken by irate investors.Or disgruntled movie fans.
In conclusion, this is a horrible cardboard work that will clash with you're aesthetic sensibilities and quite possibly give you cancer.Which apparently had something to do with the disjointed story the tacked on to keep the scenes appearing "logical".
truly, truly awful, but 2 points for being Australian and for promising not to do a sequel.
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