Directed by James Mark
Starring Sara Mitich, George Tchortov
And to the voice that told her when and where to act
She said, "I've lost control again"
It’s not that Control. This is a “mind-bending” low budget sci-fi that I would have included in my last review, if I’d seen it in time, as it’s another (virtual) two-hander. This one though is a more intelligently executed film with just about enough intrigue and confusion to carry the film through it’s minimalist set-up.
Eileen (Mitich) wakes up in a locked and sound-proofed room (a stylized anechoic chamber a bit like the Station To Station album cover). In front of her is a desk with a pencil on it. A voice is heard telling her to move the pencil. She does. Cut. Eileen is back in the room. Again the voice tells her to move the pencil. This time she is tied to her chair. She can’t get up. The voice tells her if she doesn’t move the pencil her daughter will die. She moves the pencil by taking off her shoe and throwing it. Success. Cut. Back in the room. “Move the pencil”. This time the desk and pencil are cut off by a perspex screen. How is she going to move it? How can she save the daughter we see playing on the beach in idyllic sun-hazed flashbacks/ flash-forwards? Eileen’s husband Roger (Tchortov) appears in the room. Is he any help? Of course not. He just annoys her. I’m not going to go into too many plot details but it doesn’t take too long to discover Eileen is the subject of an experiment in telekinesis.
A locked room movie in the tradition of Cube, much of Control is elliptical. It perhaps takes itself a touch too seriously but that said it manages to remain entertaining and convinces within its own internal logic. Control skirts right to the edge of modern psychological sci-fi cliches (the done-to-death soft-focus mother/child scenes in particular) but just as the viewer’s patience might be wearing thin it steps up a gear with a tremendously staged psychic kung-fu scene.
Mitich, best known for the Star Trek: Discovery series, is excellent and cinematographer Russ De Jong and director Mark (who co-wrote with Matthew Nayman) do plenty with a very reduced mise en scène. Plenty, but never quite enough to really blow your mind.
Control screened at FrightFest and is released on digital platforms on September 26 via Signature Entertainment