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
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
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- John Lynch: Private Peaceful, The Hot Potato, Ghosted, 13HRs, Black Death, The Tournament, Isolation, Sliding Doors, Best, This Is The Sea, Some Mother’s Son, Moll Flanders (1996), Nothing Personal, The Secret Of Roan Inish, Angel Baby, The Secret Garden (1993), In The Name Of The Father, Princess Caraboo, Edward II, Hardware, Cal
- Antonia Thomas: Hello Carter, Northern Soul, Scrotal Recall (TV), 8 Minutes Idle, Sunshine On Leith, Spike Island
- Craig Conway: The 4th Reich, Blood Shot, Detective Harrigan, Airborne, 7Lives, Four, Devil’s Playground, The Tournament, How To Stop Being a Loser, Doomsday
- Morjana Alaoui: Traitors, Martyrs
- Jumayn Hunter: The Guvnors, Borrowed Time, Dom Hemingway, I Anna, Quartet, Piggy, Cherry Tree Lane, Attack The Block, Eden Lake
- Edward Dogliani: Game of Thrones (TV)
- Sophie Hatfield: The Best Little Whorehouse In Rochdale
- Ned Dennehy: Child 44, Roadkill (2015), The Woman In Black 2, Serena, Downhill, Peaky Blinders (TV), Grabbers, Storage 24, Tyrannosaur, Blitz, The Eagle, The Escapist