In his feature length directorial debut, Keir Burrows' 'Anti Matter' makes its world premiere at this year's Raindance film festival, where it delves into the infinitely explored question of what makes us human - with edge-of-your-seat, cataclysmic consequences which idle on the edge of uncharted territory. Scary stuff.
The world of science-fiction is laced with ways of looking at the world through the eyes of hypothesis, piecing together a commentary of the present with the potentialities of the future, fracturing that space-time continuum by putting some hazy future on top of the hardened present – like that one snapchat filter that somehow makes everything look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And when it’s done right, it’s done right. You come out of the cinema screen, rubbing your eyes, getting used to the glaring light of present day, and you feel changed somehow. Some part of you is different, or missing, or wasn’t there before you came in an hour and a half ago, and often, it can be boiled down to a temporary misplace of trust. Not mistrust in people alone, but a certain, specific dubiosity or apprehension about the world and its fate, a feeling which is eerily analogous to sci-fi. All the way from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Ex Machina, it’s something which chains the best sci-fi’s together – something which Keir Burrows, in his feature length directorial debut, Anti Matter, does to near perfection.
Making its world premiere at this year’s Raindance Film Festival, Anti Matter, follows Oxford PhD student Ana as she forges the keys to the fourth dimension, creating the world’s first wormhole. Upon entering, she swiftly forgets everything from then on in. Unable to create new memories (in a very Memento-esque style), Ana succumbs to the mistrust of her closest co-workers and attempts to find her own way to the truth, resulting in a cataclysmic unveiling of some pretty morally ambiguous questions about the future of scientific discovery.
And for a film with a handful of less than average performances, Anti Matter pulls off its unlikely premise to an almost transfixing state. Tension is forged and maintained expertly, a brimming handful of sequences idling on the edge of genuinely thrilling or heart-racingly eerie. Lead Yaiza Figueroa (Ana) sidles between unmistakable confidence and devastating, yet expertly subtle, loneliness and isolation. And we are dragged the whole, spiralling way down with her.
It’s a film which doesn’t just intertwine an efficaciously well-crafted plot and story-arc with interesting enough characters and an impressive script to match, but it utilises its technical elements to the best of their abilities too. Flashbacks and dream sequences are shot with stunning vision, incongruous to present-day science-y antics where everything’s just going horribly wrong for Ana. It isn’t often that a film can say not only is its editing something to behold, but that its editing is something to behold without relying on it. Every element of Anti Matter refuses to take the limelight, refuses to be some kind of unnecessary saving grace, each does its thing and then passes it over to the next. Teamwork at its finest.
Clunky and cumbersome in parts (the line ‘we’re gonna need a bigger boat’ said with no trace of irony a fitting instance), its romantic exposition and adamancy that every bit of science behind the discovery of the wormhole must be explained is Anti Matter’s biggest frustration – I mean, I’m not asking for Margot Robbie explaining the science of magnetic fields and mass of electrodes from the comfort of her bathtub, a la The Big Short, but let’s just say it’s easy to completely miss all the science jargon in this one, and not care that you missed it either.
But no doubt it’s clever, it’s researched, a lot of effort and a lot of heart has been put into this one. And on only a micro-budget with funds raised over several years, Anti Matter might just be the next Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the next Ex Machina, joining the idolized group that asks just what it means to be human in a world where we are acting as gods. And wherever this film goes after its world premiere, one thing’s for certain – director Keir Burrows is going somewhere we’ve never seen before, and he’s taking us there with him. Brace yourself – this one’s a parable for the modern age of creation and destruction.
Anti Matter (2016), directed by Kier Burrows, is being shown as part of the 2016 Raindance Film Festival. Further information about the festival including screening times and ticket information can be found here.