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In 1982 a Russian physicist discovered something extraordinary was behind the strange radar anomalies he was recording. Something dark, which will eventually alter the path of mankind. Before he could tell anyone, he mysteriously vanished. Many years later budding physics student Dean Hollister and his discredited physics teacher have become obsessed with the same mystery. What had been a rare phenomenon is suddenly happening all over the world. The day it happens is a regular night shift for Dean at his mother's diner. Black rifts appear in the sky. Behind those rifts, something is moving. It's watching us. Written by
Visually great but lifeless acting and a shallow script
First things first. I usually like to start with the positive aspects of a film and the biggest thing this film has going for it are the visuals. It has a very consistent color palette throughout, giving it a clean, professional look that is very hard to achieve with such a small budget. With updates to computer software technology and hardware allowing for lower prices, it really isn't difficult to put this technology in the hands of Joe Q. Public but with that being said, it still requires some skill and an eye for detail to keep consistency throughout. The CGI is fairly well done, opting for the "less-is-more" approach which helps to lend an ominous air to the overall production. The music is also decently done, but a generic suspense film score.
Now for the not so good points. The pacing of this film is done in such a way that the skill of acting is severely lacking. The line delivery is very stunted and slowed down, as though there was an overall feeling that the dialogue wouldn't be heard unless they... speak... very... slowly (the news broadcast is one example that comes to mind). By doing this, there's just no energy or believability to anyone's performance. For a better idea of how this can be overcome, especially on such a low budget, I recommend watching Shane Carruth's "Primer". He opted for more naturalistic speech. This allowed the actors to come across as more authentic. The Rift also incorporates way too many lingering closeups of the actor's faces. M. Night Shyamalan also does this a LOT in his movies and it really detracts from his story-telling overall. In the Rift, it just highlights the inadequacy of the depth of the acting and serves to give an overall slowness to the film's story arc.
As for the script, there's just too much oddness that makes no sense. For example, the DARPA 'assassin' is this left-field character who doesn't really add anything overall and feels like it was shoe-horned in. Also, the fact that those who collected information about these 'anomalies' mysteriously disappeared also makes no sense. It implies there is a government conspiracy to end the world with monsters from another dimension. Why? What gain could there possibly be?
The overall concept of R.A.D.A.R. anomalies being a cause for alarm is also a hard idea to swallow. Another idea that feels like it was thrown in to attempt to create artificial tension. A deeper history of how and what these R.A.D.A.R. anomalies have done in the past would have helped a viewer understand why they would concern the main character as much as they did before all hell started to break loose.
Overall, this film is okay for a short. Visually, it's quite good, but that's really about it. Acting is sub-par and the story is thread-bare, containing an odd mesh of ideas that don't really coalesce into a cohesive and logical whole. It's quite possible that with a bit more experience/seasoning and a better grasp of plotting, we might be seeing Robert Kouba churn out some good sci-fi popcorn fare in the future. This film short is more of a meretricious effort.
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