BEYOND

7 out of 10

Release Date: 12th January 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Joseph Baker & Tom Large (Arcadia)

Cast: Richard J Danum, Gillian McGregor, Kristian Hart, David McGranaghan, Dawn Sievewright and Paul Brannigan

Writer: Joseph Baker & Tom Large

Trailer: BEYOND

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Beyond is an unsual ‘alien invasion’ movie that shuns it’s low-budget trappings to deliver an interesting watch. Set in Glasgow and the surrounding countryside, Beyond’s plot is constructed from several parallel timelines: the weeks surrounding the discovery of an asteroid on a possible collision course with earth, the last few days before impact and a present day timeline that reveals that aliens have colonised Earth and have killed most of the population. The story of angry couple Cole (RICHARD J DANUM – ARCADIA) and Maya (GILLIAN MCGREGOR) is revealed in a seemingly random fashion over the course of the film’s running time, as we begin to learn how all three timelines connect.  In the present day Cole and Maya are on the run from the aliens and are hiding out in houses in the countryside. At some stage they lost a their baby daughter. In an earlier timeline Cole prevents an armed robbery in a convenience store but doesn’t do enough to stop the store attendant, Michael (PAUL BRANNIGAN – THE ANGEL’S SHARE) from being shot and hospitalised. When Cole attends the hospital in the last days before the meteor hits Earth to be at his daughter’s birth he runs into a recovering Michael again and he seems connected to the future as well as the past. In the present day, Cole and May encounter fellow survivor Keith (KRISTIAN HART) who may have discovered a way to defeat the aliens. Where will all this lead?

Beyond has been inspired by the current wave of character driven TV series and it’s heartening to see a thoughtful approach to a seemingly generic ‘end of the world’ movie.  With an extended running time the plot revelations may have been more convincing and it’s rushed ending seems to be the result of a compromise. A more drawn out conclusion could have worked even better – but quality sci-fis on this kind of budget are so few and far between beggars can’t be choosers. It’s well-plotted and well acted by a very small cast. Paul Brannigan excels in a mysterious supporting role. To begin with his part seems to be a throwaway and you wonder why it’s attracted such a talented young actor, then you realise he’s got the plum role. Whilst the Danum and McGregor appear in virtually every scene, Beyond is Brannigan’s to steal.  To say which film Beyond borrows a plot twist from is to let the air out of it and won’t do your enjoyment levels any good. Part of the films success comes from trying to fathom out where it’s all leading to. Slightly poncey set-ups are explained away when certain characters’ circumstances come to light.

The special effects are very good and the alien spacecrafts are rendered brilliantly. On a high-res TV they look amazing. Blown up on a cinema screen who knows, this was a DVD premiere in the UK.  The soundtrack is a memorable collection of catchy electronic pulses and clicks and they essentially become a centre piece when the films story strands are tied together at the end.

7 out of 10 – A good attempt at presenting something fresh in an overcrowded genre. It works well as a dramatic puzzle piece and is bolstered by strong performances from it’s largely unknown cast and a memorable synth soundtrack. An interesting plot and great visuals will also keep you engaged. Way ‘beyond’ average.

Second review below by Matt Usher aka Joe Pesci II

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “BEYOND

  1. BEYOND – review by Matt Usher

    Earth’s about to be destroyed by a massive asteroid-thing! What to do? Well, whilst NASA is off doing its disaster-aversion stuff (and failing), BEYOND focuses on the reactions of a couple of seemingly normal characters facing the end and whatever might lie BEYOND. We first meet our hero, a builder called Cole, as he almost suicidally stops an armed robber in a corner shop. This turns out to be a hugely important scene and not the character-revealing scene-setter it seems to be. After dealing with that (unsuccessfully as the shop assistant gets shot and the robber/shooter escapes) Cole pops along to a fancy dress party and meets Maya, who is about to become the love of his life.

    Then, just when you’re not quite expecting it, it turns out that the asteroid-thing has hit (though it turns out to be a bit more complicated than that). We know this has happened because (a) Cole now has a beard, and (b) he’s trying to catch fish with his hands. He’s still with Maya but it seems that love’s young dream has turned sour, in part because of the whole asteroid thing happening and large swathes of the population being wiped out, and partly because their baby has vanished with one set of in-laws, and partly because they have a baby at all (that’s definitely a bit of a bone of contention between them). But it transpires that that’s not the really big problem! The asteroid was really an alien spaceship which is hovering around hoovering people up – but only at night – and doing who knows what to them. Our heroes are on the run, dodging alien abduction whilst looking for their missing family members, but there are too many echoes of the past (many of them eerily appropriate for their situation), and the future doesn’t seem too rosy either.

    The film then pops back and forth between time zones, following Cole and Maya’s relationship in pre-asteroid-smash-time as they fall in love, get pregnant, and start arguing, and in post-asteroid-smash-time as they run for their lives and argue even more. And as all this happens, the incident in the shop becomes more and more pertinent.

    BEYOND has perhaps three main faults (two of which aren’t too detrimental). One is that Cole doesn’t convince. Richard J Danum is a perfectly decent actor (though arguably too pretty for the part), but there are too many sides to the character that don’t ring true (though that may admittedly be part of the point of the film). He’s meant to be a man with almost total existential despair, but he rarely seems more than really quite peeved. The other middling problem is if you’ve seen a famous cult movie from the 1990s which has a vaguely similar structure and reveal (but has nothing to do with alien invasions). If you’ve not seen that film then it’s obviously not a problem. And, for what it’s worth, I think BEYOND possibly deals with it slightly better (and I duck as Brit Pic Dick explodes in anger at such disrespect to his favourite film of that decade). BEYOND scatters its clues in plain sight – some a little too obviously perhaps (I say that even though I didn’t cotton on until the moment when you’re meant to cotton on). At the moment of the revelation my initial thought was ‘don’t you dare do it you swines! That’ll ruin everything!’ but do it they did, but then they took it a bit further, and somehow they do (just about) get away with it, but it’s a close-run thing. But the big problem is the shop assistant, played (extremely well) by Paul Brannigan. This is a role which weaves its way into the main narrative, but neither Brannigan nor the director can cover up the fact that it just doesn’t fit into the main structure, but, almost disastrously, that is what it’s meant to do. He’s meant to be both character and some sort of moral conscience. Alas, despite Brannigan’s efforts, you just find yourself wondering why the film spends so much time with him. There’s a long speech about a girl on a beach and a postcard, and I’m sure it’s terribly important, but it passed me by, so you’ll need to ask someone else what all that was about. Even so, these are quibbles which don’t undermine a clever, thoughtful and occasionally moving story.

    Despite the quibbles, BEYOND succeeds in a lot of other areas. For a start it has just the right seriousness of tone. The film-makers have clearly put a lot of thought to how we really would face up to this sort of situation, rather than simply imagining how we ought to react. Gillian MacGregor as Maya is particularly believable and rises above the character as written having only two settings: sweet and sour. Being pretty low budget the film doesn’t show the moment when life on Earth changes forever – but it makes that work to its advantage, and to some extent that’s the point – a bigger budget film would have to show that moment which would inevitably ruin much of BEYOND’s ambiguity. And there’s some good work on the design and realisation of the spaceship when it does turn up. (But I can even moan about that – oh for the days of hub-caps on fishing wire!) But it’s the gloomy atmosphere which impresses most, it’s got a very quiet sense of desperation running through it, an atmosphere which isn’t just there for the sake of atmosphere but which links to the story as well.

    It might be worth watching this in a double-bill with HONEYMOON, both films explore similar themes, smuggling serious issues in under the guise of genre film-making. BEYOND will probably disappoint anyone looking for a nice straightforward alien invasion film, but it’s a lot more interesting than that anyway. It deals intriguingly both with characters on the verge of the apocalypse, and afterwards and does so in a (mostly) satisfying and original way.

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