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British Fim Review: The Scopia Effect
Directed By Christopher Butler
A darkly compelling, powerful film that punches way above its weight for the budget size.
Made with a lot of care and thought, The Scopia Effect is simply the best low budget horror/supernatural thriller to come out of the UK in years. Made with expert attention to detail, planning, heaps of talent and an eye for a truly original storyline, The Scopia Effect is one of those films, that screams about the talent that made it as hard, as the lead character screams as her sanity slowly spirals down…. But that would give it away.
What is clear though, and it’s safe to say it without divulging any plot, is the very strong moral and emotional premise that this film explores, which enriches what is already a strong piece of story concept, and is a treat all too rare in horror films. A girl, ‘Basia‘, suffering from long term depression, starts a journey of exploration with a hypnotherapist, but what slowly comes out is far bigger than anyone could’ve foreseen. With echoes of the Wachowski siblings and Tom Twyker’s Cloud Atlas, and graced with a similar intelligence, The Scopia Effect is a microcosm of similar story lines, set over many life times, all of which eventually converge in on one, central story.
With minimalist, naturalistic dialog, the Writer director, newcomer, Christopher Butler, uses the power of visual storytelling to unveil the tale, through a series of quick jumps and cuts, which cleverly weave the story to its climax. This is ably and award-winningly aided by wonderful cinematography, which brings us right into the world, or more correctly, worlds of the story. This is a story that manages to pull us into the claustrophobia that a good horror film really needs to take off, without giving the film any of the physical boundaries usually used in less original horror films. Instead, the use of close up photography brings us into what is the very internal world, of ‘Basia’ - locks us in, and does not let go. My only criticism would be that the edit is perhaps a little long. All the cuts and visuals in the film work, and it must have been difficult to choose what to cut with so much good footage and well-chosen coverage, however, the story is in danger of over kill in some places. It might also be because, The Scopia Effect creator has such an original voice, he is maybe not sure people will get it unless it’s really spelled out. For lovers of horror, there’s certainly enough to really horrify the bravest of us, but for those liking a slicker narrative, it could’ve been a little tighter.
Scarily, painfully, the story is held together by the good acting from a young actress whom it’s hoped has a lot more roles coming her way. Joanna Ignaczewska gives a brilliant, completely unselfconscious performance which really makes the whole film work. Clearly directed and worked out before, it’s no surprise that this film was three years in the making. However, this can be a sensible way to go with a small budget, as the time in between shooting and bursts of post- production are never wasted. Time can sometimes really develop and mature a project, which in this case, is all the luckier for us. Wonderful debut feature, let’s hope Christopher Butler makes lots more. 4.5 stars.
THE SCOPIA EFFECT is releassed on DVD 15 February 2016.
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