June 1, 2009

Blu-ray Review: Eden Log

Eden Log. Interesting name. I saw the trailer for the French science fiction film and decided I had to see it. The film had an interesting look, a promising premise, and just seemed to be a little bit smarter and more exciting than the typical sci fi feature. Aside from that trailer I knew nothing about the film going in, it seemed more appropriate to avoid potential spoilers, especially if this was actually an intelligent film. There is nothing like getting spoiled on something you were looking forward to discovering. Now, sitting in the afterglow of said film I am pleased to report there is definitely some intelligence at work here and you are expected to work for your payoff. That said, there is a lot of questions left unanswered in the nebulous world of Eden Log.

edenlog12I will freely admit that once the climax was reached and the credits began to role, I was befuddled. I was not quite sure of what it was that I saw. As I sat in the dark putting together the pieces, I was able to get a general idea of what was going, sort of. Still, there is no denying this puzzle is missing a few pieces, probably on purpose to make you work that much harder.

As Eden Log opens we hear a man with a breathing problem. He has just emerged from a muddy puddle of water and he is covered with grime. A light flashes in the background and we catch glimpses of the man as he stumbles around, trying to ascertain where he is. He is almost like a newborn, he has no memory of who he is or where he came from, where he is is a mystery, and he does not speak, at least not yet. He eventually finds a light, some power flickers on, and he winds up in front of a gate.

The man begins to make his way through this underground facility and before long, a few things become clear. Something bad had happened here, there are strange mutated creatures in the dark hallways, and there are men looking for someone called "The Architect."

edenlog2This world of Eden Log tells of a rift between humanity and technology, it is a journey of discovery where the big picture is slowly revealed over the length of the film. It is a movie filled with atmosphere and dread. What is Eden Log? Who is this man we are following? What lies at the end of his journey?

Eden Log is the type of film that to give anything away would probably give too much. I would not want to have known any specifics before watching. On the surface, the story told is a simple one, of a man trying to get out and figure out who he is. The facts of the case are revealed at a methodical pace, left lingering for the viewer to put together. The end may leave you confused, but it is a confusion you will want to work out, watch the film again, and try to piece it together.

The film is bathed in gun metal hues, very near a black and white production. Much of the film is bathed in darkness with odd sounds emanating, all adding to a deliciously palpable feeling of dread. The film may have been shot on a low budget, but it does not matter as the production design disguises the fact as it offers a minimalist, claustrophobic look.

edenlog8The performances are generally solid. The lead is played by Clovis Cornillac (who looks a lot like Jeffrey Nothing, front man for the band Mushroomhead). He is convincing as the man with no memory.

Franck Vestiel is the man behind the camera, making his big screen directorial debut. He brings a unique vision to the screen, making good use of close-ups and hand held camera work. Vestiel also co-wrote the screenplay with Pierre Bordage. This is the first major project for either, and it is definitely a promising one, bringing strong visuals and intelligent writing together under one roof.

Audio/Video. The film is a low-budget one, and as much as the production design attempts to cover that, it is still noticeable. That said, the transfer does a fine job of representing the darkness. The image never becomes muddy and holds a good amount of detail, although much of it does appears to be a little to the soft side. There is a level of grain visible, helping give it a film feel. Overall, the image is quite good.

The audio, on the other hand, is really quite good. Much of the music by Seppuku Paradigm is atmospheric more than score like, but it helps underline the tension the filmmakers are building. Listen, early on as we hear random mechanical sounds in the distance, creature noises and growls, and our hero's own breathing. The execution of the sound design is terribly engrossing, drawing you in from all sides. Sure, it is minimalist design, matching the look of the film, but sometimes less is more, right?

Extras. There is only one extra here, and I find no real reason to watch it. It is the French version of the film. Yes, I was confused at first as well, this is a French movie, after all. Apparently, the film was shot in both French and English at the same time, with the main film presented here being the English one. So, this is more than just adding a dub track. Unfortunately, they did not go out of their way for the French version, it i much muddier and noisier, no remastering was done to clean it up at all. With the English language version here, I see no reason to watch the bad looking French version.

I must say that it would have been nice to have a commentary, or making of featurette on the film to help get a better idea of what was going through their minds when making the film.

Bottomline. This is a very good film, it is also a very weird film. It is the sort of movie that could grow to have cult status. It is a film that displays vision and creativity that is lacking in a lot of mainstream science fiction.

One last note about the film, could the end actually be the beginning? Just a thought.



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