I wanted to watch this movie in theaters because it reminded me of a video game I used to play and honestly, it reminded me of the video game quite a bit. In case you were wondering the game is S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl. I even found myself saying, “get out of here stalker” during the movie. Instead I ended up watching it on the DVR, so I am not sure if a lot was cut out or edited.
It wasn’t awful, but it could have been better. The opening had left me wondering what the heck was going on since none of it made sense. Glad I didn’t pay money to see it. The movie really begins to start with the main character Lena is in some military complex called Area X wanting to see her husband who was abducted from an ambulance. Again, leaving you wondering. Once some things are explained they let Lena become part of the next expedition team which happens to comprise of all women scientists. Two scientists, Lena, a paramedic, and a psychologist.
Eventually they make it into the shimmer which reminds me of The Zone from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and then it jumps forward a few days. Having played that game as a kid I expected to see some weird stuff in this movie. They continue their journey as Lena has flashbacks to what appears to be a troubled marriage and an affair with one of her coworkers I believe. Honestly, I don’t think this was really needed in this movie. She has a terrible marriage and cheats on her husband who she loves? Just doesn’t make any sense to have that in this movie. It was probably included to provide a deeper meaning because the overall movie didn’t make any sense. It was just pretty flowers and creepy monsters. Which you only really see two of them. The world inside of the shimmer has so much to offer but they skip a lot of it.
The first one isn’t that creepy except that during the first attack the psychologist doesn’t really offer much help, she just stands there impartial. Her entire attitude is just useless in the movie. It’s like all she does is talk and never listens. They do explain she has cancer but that still isn’t a reason to be a bitch as your team gets nabbed by a giant albino alligator with mutated teeth. The alligator does have red spots all over its body which may hint that it was attacked before. By another team perhaps.
The movie switches between beautiful imagery and some amazing nature shots to dark and spooky almost within every scene. After the second monster you get a glimpse into the previous team as they cut open one of their own to reveal some creepy shit. It even had me second guessing what the hell they were doing. Part of what I saw reminded me of that movie Prometheus.
Anyway, this marks the beginning of the end for our squad. That same night one of them gets abducted by what I thought was a giant wolf. After this our psychologist still shows no emotion that one of her squad mates just got dragged off into the darkness by a beast. Typical.
As they advance further, they come across another town that has humanoid shaped plants and one of the scientists begins to explain something about how the shimmer is like a prism. She uses a lot of technical jargon I don’t remember. Unfortunately, this is where our paramedic snaps and ties up the other three before getting attacked by a faceless bear like beast. Now, I will admit, seeing his thing with a skull for a head kind of freaked me out. I mean I have seen some shit but that was just straight weird. Not to mention it is mimicking the scream of the person it last killed. I am guessing it got that after ripping open her voice box. Talk about adaptation. Spoiler, the bear-thing dies after it kills our crazy paramedic. Sadly, after our psychologist heads for the lighthouse still unphased our last remaining scientist turns into a plant.
Fast forward to the lighthouse and Lena enters to find a hole in the ground and a burnt husk of a body in front of a camera. She obviously watches it and learns the true fate of her husband. She then sees the copy who she then realizes is the one who returned to her in the very beginning of the movie. So, some of the questions get answered. What doesn’t get answered is what happens next. The alien she encounters. The battle she faces with her own reflection and how she manages to get it to hang on to the white phosphorous grenade that ultimately destroys the shimmer.
Other unanswered question is how Lena develops the same exact tattoo that our Paramedic had on her forearm. It might be a small detail but, in this movie, it seems to use a lot of small details that can be overlooked. I was hoping that the movie would show light on that, but it didn’t. Even the final question isn’t answered when her ‘husband’ asks if she is the real Lena. She doesn’t answer at all and the movie ends with both of their eyes showing some sign of the shimmer.
I give the movie two out of five stars for creativity and imagery. It falls short on everything else. Character development is limited, and the acting is not that believable in certain situations. It just doesn’t really deliver like I would have thought. Maybe it could have been cast better or added more to the story to help with plot development. I learned that it was based on a book so perhaps if I had read the book the movie would have made more sense. Watch it if you want to be presented with some thought provoking material and beautiful imagery.