5 out of 10

Release Date: 27th August 2014 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Billy O’Brien (Isolation)

Cast: John Lynch, Antonia Thomas, Beth Winslet, Morjana Alaoui, Craig Conway, Jumayn Hunter, Edward Dogliani, Chris Ellis Stanton, Perri Hanson, Sophie Hatfield, Aiste Gramantaite and Ned Dennehy

Writer: Billy O’Brien


MV5BMTY2MTcyODgyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDg4MTU1MDE@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_AL_TO BE PROOFREAD: My Mum was visiting recently and she asked me whether I’d watched any good films recently, I couldn’t think of any so just to answer the question I told her about the last film I saw. When I mentioned it’s title Scintilla, she asked me whether it was the new film about Cilla Black? I suppose Scintilla does sound like Cilla. “Hiya! Scintilla ‘ere chuck!” but alas this is completely different from the TV movie about said Scouse crooner Cilla Black starring Sheridan Smith. It’s another ‘men on  a mission get chased by monsters down a hole-flick‘….

Some of these types of movies can be fun and some can be as boring as ten Tarkoksky‘s played in slow motion on a ten year loop. Scintilla falls in the middle, it’s neither fun or boring – it’s just exists.  For plot it’s makers have assembled a decent selection of proven actors (who have probably always wanted to be in Alien) and then wastes the majority of them. Most of the characters are ‘types’ saddled with inordinate levels of exposition to spout, or characters that don’t make sense.  Seven or so mercenaries break into a heavily fortified factory / barracks in a former USSR state. Deep beneath it is a lab were an ongoing project to harvest the perfect hybrid organism – alien DNA and human is in progress. Scientist, Irvine (BETH WINSLET) has been down there since the 1970s judging by her fashio sense. The mission is secret even to mission leader, Powell (JOHN LYNCH – BLACK DEATH) as company ‘girl-in-the -know’, Healy (MORJANA ALAOUI – TRAITORS) is holding back a lot of the facts. Only Antonia Thomas(SCROTAL RECALL) Steinmann’s character shows degrees of personality as she’s troubled by what she witnesses in Irvine’s lab, and she ultimately endangers her own and the team’s safety.

So many ideas are touched up in this film but we’re given a quick glance and moved on. For instance: one of the team Cody (EDWARD DOGLIANI) is abandoned to his unknown fate a third of the way in before hastily being revisited near the end; there’s a team of drones dressed as bumble bees in the tunnels beneath the factory armed with syringes who are the least effective band of goons I’ve ever seen since the Imperial Stormtroopers learnt to shoot and they’re just waved off like they mean nothing; and we can’t even play the game of who get’s killed next as Neil Marshall-style – there’s no protraction – once the shit hits the fan, they’re all wiped out in swift succession. I felt most sorry for Craig Conway (FOUR) in a very thin role that threatened to turn into a cliche but then turned into a shrug. Even sadder is Jumayn Hunter’s (DOM HEMINGWAY) merc. His only lines contain references to his need to get paid. I forgot he was even in it and because of this he fulfils another horror cliche of being ‘expendable black man.’ At least he doesn’t get wiped out first – although it was hard to tell who got served earliest.

Positive things about Scintilla: It discards more ideas than other sci-fi/horrors come up with. It’s cast are committed but under served. I liked the ending with a nice cameo from a ham sandwich and it looked the part. The Scintilla (PERRI HANSON) creation itself was interesting but lead to zero. So essentially we have a film that needed a sharper script, more energy and a bit more interest in it’s surroundings. Mind you as my colleague and buddy Joe Pesci II points out it’s nowhere near as bad as Outpost 1 or 3, or Basement and for that we can be grateful.

5 out of 10 – Strictly average horror sci-fi that suffers from being underpowered and cliched in all the wrong places. It had enough ideas to be original but essentially went for the easy route. Maybe a cameo from Cilla Black could have done it some positive service. Imagine if they;d have arrived in the Soviet lab to discover Cilla was an experiment by the Russians to ruin 80s prime time TV. “Surprise, you lot.” Sadly Scintilla isn’t a ‘lorra lorra fun!”

Second Review Below by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher



One thought on “SCINTILLA

  1. SCINTILLA – review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher

    If you’ve seen OUTPOST then you’ve seen this, except this one doesn’t have killer Nazi zombies, it has a killer Communist hybrid thingy with funny eyes. Other than that there’s not much difference. This week’s team of rugged mercenaries coming out of retirement for one last job is led by John Lynch, an actor who seems to relish every role as if it’s Hamlet at the National Theatre. This is not necessarily a good thing. He is joined on his inevitably doomed quest by the usual motley bunch of misfits and borderline psychopaths, including Craig Conway in a criminally underwritten role. Actually they’re not criminally underwritten roles, they’re good old-fashioned stereotypes: bespectacled computer geek, carefree Irishman, sweary tough girl, secretive scientist, bloke with beard. You get the picture. And you know they will bite the dust, but (like in OUTPOST) they do so in a film which has no sense of danger, excitement or anticipation. One minute they’re creeping around ill-lit corridors miles underground (there is a good shot where they all descend into the darkness but it’s wasted), the next minute half of them are dead without you quite registering the fact (like in bad productions of Hamlet).

    But why are these clichés creeping about underground on their last mission? In the name of science. And therefore war. This time it’s all set in Siberia or Eastern Europe (actually it’s ENTITY which is set in Siberia but that’s a completely different film about people going into a dangerous disused Facility of Death and which is the subject of my next review) and our team of desperadoes have to get ‘something’ out of some sort of seemingly impregnable fortress. We learn that dodgy Russian(ish) scientists led by Beth Winslet and Morjana Alaoui (who has changed sides and is the brains behind the expedition) have been overly impressed by JURASSIC PARK and have fused DNA from many millennia ago with human DNA to make the ‘something’ in question, which turns out to be a hybrid (which will come as no surprise to anyone who watches this film under its alternative title THE HYBRID): a bloke with rather good diamond eyes and augmented killing powers. Actually there’s two of them, but one’s female and pregnant and therefore doesn’t last long before dying in agony.

    The film’s big surprise (apart from its coda which is as unexpected as it is inconsequential) is in its structure. As you would expect, our gang creep about the barren wastelands, find the fortress of doom, secretly infiltrate it, go down some tunnels and start to get killed (rather unexpectedly by giant human-bee-things); but then, on arriving in the Inner Sactum of Scientific Gobbledegook and Mischief, instead of just doing some shooting and making off with the Hybrid, everyone stands around and has a chat about what they’re doing. This makes a nice if unlikely change, and it leads to the big baffling plot problem: Lynch (the leader remember) suddenly decides he doesn’t like the mission, but the organisers of the mission knew that he wouldn’t so they’ve got that taken care of. So why employ him in the first place?

    But don’t worry, soon after they’ve had a big chat about the fake science they all start to get killed. There’s a good exploding head if that’s the sort of thing you like in films, and someone else gets chopped in half entertainingly (if you find that sort of thing entertaining). As ever with these films about teams or teens getting sliced up in orderly fashion, it’s difficult to summon much interest in any of the individuals, and so you just have to play ‘guess the kill order’. I failed, not least because about three of them get done in in the same shot. Most of the actors seem to be happy to take the money and put in solidly uninteresting performances, Lynch excepted. He seems to be taking the whole thing (too) seriously and someone really ought to cast him in a proper film with a decent script and a real character to play. He’s very intense and haunted, but the part only needs someone who looks a bit grim.

    There’s nothing wrong with being derivative / ripping off other people’s ideas if you do something interesting with them. Apart from the hybrid’s glittery eyes SCINTILLA does next to nothing with the material it’s nicked / borrowed. There’s not much wrong with it if you haven’t seen dozens of its brethren, but it just lumbers through the motions like a reluctant teenager. The biggest mystery is why this got made in the first place. I can only guess that OUTPOST was such a huge hit that it is even now spawning an army of mercenaries-go-down-a-hole-and-don’t-return-due-to-being-eaten/killed-by monstrous-man-made-monsters movies. Not entirely unlike ENTITY which I shall review shortly.

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