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The Beyond (2017 film)

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The Beyond
Directed byHasraf Dulull
Produced byStuart Ashton and Craig Cohon
Written byHasraf Dulull
Starring
  • Jane Perry
  • Nigel Barber
  • Noeleen Comiskey
  • David Bailie
  • Brian Deacon
Music byAleah Morrison and Matthew Wilcock
CinematographyAdam Batchelor
Edited byHasraf Dulull
Distributed byGravitas Ventures
Release date
  • 17 November 2017 (2017-11-17)
Running time
103 minutes
LanguageEnglish

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The Beyond is a 2017 independent science fiction thriller film written and directed by Hasraf Dulull. It was Dulull's first feature film as a director and is loosely based on his 2014 short film Project Kronos.[1]

Plot[edit]

In 2019 an anomaly appears above the Earth. Communications are disrupted, there is a power outage on the International Space Station (ISS), and an astronaut, Jim Marcell, goes missing (presumed dead). Alex Grant (Barber), Head of Exploration Missions, reveals that this isn't the first time the anomaly has been encountered, as it first appeared in 1990 when it was visible for two months before mysteriously disappearing.

The Space Agency, run by Gillian Laroux (Perry) sends probes into the anomaly. Communication with the probes is soon lost, but data analysis reveals it might be a wormhole, with a planet-like structure on the other side. Scientists give the anomaly the name 'The Void'. Cosmologist Jessica Johnson (Comiskey) argues that this could be a first contact event. Despite resistance from her team, Laroux wants to send astronauts to investigate further. She quickly raises funding for a full expedition. Cold water is poured on Laroux's idea by astrophysicist Professor Jakob Brukiehm (David Bailie) who says it would be suicidal due to the gravitational waves. The only feasible solutions he says are robotics or probes.

Strange orbs then begin to appear in the sky and The Void starts emitting waves. Concern rises about the threat posed by The Void and The Spheres. A secret US military organisation offers its classified robotics technology – Human 2.0 – to help solve the Space Agency's dilemma. Human 2.0 was designed to fuse human brains with synthetic bodies to create more robust soldiers. The US military argues this technology will allow the Space Agency to send an astronaut successfully into The Void.

A number of candidates are considered for the project before wheelchair user and drone pilot Carl Roberts (Tom Christian) is selected. However, the procedure to fuse Roberts' brain with the synthetic body fails and Roberts dies. After struggling with her decision, Jessica Johnson volunteers to be the next candidate and this time the procedure is successful. The US military also produce a Human 2.0 soldier to accompany Johnson on her mission, with this version containing unspecified weaponry.

Johnson and the 2.0 soldier are launched into The Void, with Johnson reporting beautiful lights before disappearing. Five days later the mission returns unexpectedly, but when the capsule is recovered only Johnson is in the craft, with no sign of the Human 2.0 soldier. The craft looks like it has been in space for a very long time.

Johnson is put unconscious into quarantine where scientists attempt to retrieve data from her brain. They discover several years of memories have been made – far more than the week since she was launched into The Void.

Tensions continue to rise on Earth, and military organisation begin to attack The Spheres. Johnson wakes up and reveals what she remembers after the communications blackout. She says there was a lot of light and when she closed her eyes the Human 2.0 soldier was mysteriously transported out of the craft. She says the soldier looked fearful and kept looking at his arm, which detonated like a nuclear bomb. She passed out and awoke on a planet. On the planet she met Jim Marcell who communicated to her that everything was going to be okay. The Space Agency is sceptical about Johnson's memories, although Laroux is hopeful this means Marcell is alive and The Void and The Spheres are not malign.

Soon after Johnson awakes, the solar system is destroyed and the debris is spotted heading for Earth in a planet-destroying event. Suddenly The Spheres begin to change and form a protective barrier around the Earth. The realisation dawns that the presence of The Spheres has been completely misinterpreted as an attack, whereas they'd been sent to protect the Earth. The Void disappears. Marcell is detected in the Arizona desert unharmed but without any memory of what has happened. In the aftermath of the events, a new solar system appears, with another planet almost identical to Earth, offering new hope for humanity. The film ends with Human 2.0s on Earth 2.0 encountering the lifeforms from The Void.

Cast[edit]

  • Jane Perry as Gillian Laroux

Laroux is the director of the Space Agency. She is torn between her need to explore The Void - even at the cost of an astronaut's life - and her friendship with cosmologist Jessica Johnson. She is practical, bordering on mercenary, pointing out the cost of lost probes (£3.5 million) and the need to raise budget for further exploration of The Void. Grant corrects her by saying it is not the cost that matters but the opportunity. Laroux is one of the few characters with a back story. It is revealed that she is Canadian, a widow and has brought up her daughter Mary alone in London. Her husband was British and they met at university. He was a peacekeeper and was killed some years earlier. She is close to her daughter Mary who is now at university.

  • Nigel Barber as Alex Grant

Grant is the Head of Exploration Missions. He has practical knowledge of The Void and reveals that the anomaly has appeared before. He is sceptical about the mission and worried about resourcing. He continually warns that there is a limited time to explore a unique opportunity. It is his job to interview the candidates for Human 2.0. He is noticeably upset when Roberts dies. While concerned about the security aspects of The Void, he is visibly overjoyed when it proves to be benign.

  • Noeleen Comiskey as Jessica Johnson

A British cosmologist, Johnson advises about the science surrounding The Void. When she is matched to the Human 2.0 project she has to decide whether to take the opportunity to explore space and a historic encounter with alien life or to remain a grounded scientist. She is aware that she could die by volunteering for Human 2.0 and that the effects are irreversible. She decides to talk it through with Laroux who is a personal friend. Ultimately, she decides that the chance to encounter alien life is too exciting to turn down and she believes it should be a scientist that undertakes to represent humanity rather than a soldier. She asks Laroux to ensure her family are taken care of and to handle the cover story (that she has died) sensitively. This involves Laroux lying to her own daughter who is friendly with Johnson. Johnson ultimately survives not only the procedure but also the journey into The Void.

  • David Bailie as Professor Jakob Brukiehm

A South African astrophysicist, Bruiehm is at first sceptical that the anomaly is a wormhole. He warns the Space Agency that humans cannot survive the gravitational fields and suggests that only robotics or probes are feasible. Brukiehm acts as the practical sceptic and dissident voice, although he focuses on science. He is often seen checking or adding to his equations.

  • Tom Christian as Carl Roberts

Roberts is an American drone pilot who is paralysed from the waist down and a wheelchair user. He volunteers for Human 2.0, reasoning it will give him the freedom he has lacked for much of his life. He is the first subject of the programme and when his brain fails to bond to the synthetic body he dies.

  • Georgina Blackledge as Alice Lamont

A Synthetics Engineer that works on the Human 2.0 project, Lamont's role is to explain Human 2.0 technology and approaches.

  • Julian Graham as Jim Marcell

Jim Marcell is an astronaut that goes missing from the International Space Station at the beginning of the film. He reappears on the alien planet inside The Void to reassure Johnson that all will be well. He is later found wandering around the Arizona desert, unharmed but with no memory of how he got there.

  • Neil Percival as Charles Higgins

Higgins is the Chief Mission Controller. He knows Marcell personally and is the most concerned about the safety aspects of the mission. He is steadfastly against putting any astronaut in danger.

  • Ezra Kuresh as Dr Kuresh Patel

Dr Patel is the surgeon responsible for removing the brains from candidates and inserting them into synthetic bodies. He explains the transplant process. He is also upset when Roberts dies.

Production[edit]

The success of Project Kronos generated interest in having Dulull create a feature film. Dulull became impatient with the slow development and the "first-time director" stigma so he got the rights for "The Beyond" back to develop independently.[2] Blackmagic Design became one of the technology sponsors, providing cameras and post-production equipment.[2][3][4]

Style[edit]

One of the most notable features of The Beyond is its documentary style.[5] Dulull has described the film as a "cerebral science-fiction feature film that blends the realism of documentary with the fantastical, 'big idea' nature of the science-fiction films of today."[6] He has also described the style as 'voyeuristic'. His aim, he says, was to combine realism with sci-fi. However, he admits that in addition to the stylistic effect this delivers, it was also a way of shooting a sci-fi film on a modest, indie film budget.[7]

Distribution[edit]

The Beyond was picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures and sold to streaming platforms worldwide, including Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Video, YouTube Movies, Vimeo on Demand and Google Play.[7]

Reception[edit]

Critics have commented that the documentary style of filming makes the story move slowly and lack tension.[8][4]

The film peaked at number 2 on the Apple iTunes charts in January 2018.[9]

Wired magazine recommended it on its 2018 list of films to see.[10]

Awards[edit]

The film won the Special Jury Award for Best Sci-fi Feature Film at the Atlanta SciFi Film Festival awards (2017).[11] It won the Best VFX at the 2017 Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest.[12]

References[edit]

  1. "Sci-Fi Indie 'The Beyond' Gets Trailer (Exclusive Video)". The Hollywood Reporter. March 28, 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 ""The Beyond" — VFX Q&A - Cinefex Blog". Cinefex Blog. 2018-01-19. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  3. "HaZ Dulull's Debut Feature Film The Beyond Delivered with Blackmagic Design". TvTechnology. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Director HaZ Dulull on his sci-fi offering The Beyond - Randi Altman's postPerspective". Randi Altman's postPerspective. 2018-04-05. Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  5. "The Beyond: a High Concept Sci Fi Feature Trailer". singularityweblog.com. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  6. "Director HaZ Dulull on his sci-fi offering The Beyond". Post Perspective. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Behind the Scenes: The Making of Hasraf Dulull's THE BEYOND". Recursor: The SciFi Series Portal. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  8. "The Beyond (2017) – Review". NeverMore Horror. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  9. "Apple iTunes Charts – January 10th 2018". Haz Film.
  10. "WIRED empfiehlt: Filme, die ihr 2018 sehen solltet". WIRED (in Deutsch). Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  11. "The 2017 Second Annual Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival". Post Perspective.
  12. "WINNERS – Berlin Sci-fi Filmfest". www.berlinscifi.com. Retrieved 2018-10-12.

External links[edit]


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