Saturday, October 24, 2015

31 Days of Halloween 2015: Infini

2015, Shane Abbess -- Netflix

P.S. This is more recap with commentary, because I enjoyed so many of the little elements of this movie, but not the movie as a whole.

Monsters in Space !  Ever since Alien, the sub-genre of scifi horror feels required to play against it as a benchmark. Usually, they involve monsters that eat people or zombies or infections; in other words, anything that could be done on our home planet, but even more fun when transplanted onto an otherworldly location. I am OK with that, as I am always happy to toss a bit of space opera into my cereal bowl. Spaceships, technical readouts, pew pew guns and the cold dark of space. And the challenges of getting out there, of course.

Infini uses a rather unique idea of space travel, dispensing with big expensive spaceships travelling slowly via sublight engines or WHOOSHing via some sort of FTL -- this world uses teleportation. Transporters, or more precisely digital disintegration, transmission and reassembly move people and equipment from Earth to Out There. How they overcome the transmission speed issues (again, FTL ?) or deal with the aspects of souls or accidents where there ends up two of you, is not covered.  Neither is how they discover their transmission points. But this is common place tech, still dangerous, and there is always that chance you come through with your brain a bit scrambled.

Whit Carmichael works for a security company; dangerous work, but he needs the money as he has a new baby on the way. His first day on the job blows, as a squad returns from a mining planetoid with a case of the crazies. Guns fire, alarms go off, contamination is identified and the entire west coast base is being sterilized, lethally. With fire. But via a bit of jiggery pokery, a coworker activates Whit's teleport device and, poof, he is off to the mining complex, where it cannot be worse than what just happened to his base.

Flip scene to an east coast base where the Search & Rescue team is being scrambled. They got wind of the events on the west coast and are being sent to find any survivors at the mining base. Why? Why not just avoid the contaminated place? Because someone there has setup an automated transport of volatile substances which could take out a good amount of Earth upon arrival. So, go there, find survivors, turn off the automated transport. Search & Rescue also means armed to the teeth.

The team teleports and ... well, due to some unstable time dilation, its actually about a week since things went awry, even though its only been minutes since the west coast facility was turned into cinders. The base is a mess -- no oxygen, no power and bodies everywhere. In true Aliens fashion, the soldiers hack this terminal, flip this switch but are have no luck. But with the flashing of some terribly dated screens (separate commentary on how in order to reflect on Alien, all readouts have to look like 80s tech) and the sound of a dot matrix printer, bing! suddenly everything starts coming on. Whit was hiding inside the computer room, the sole survivor of the catastrophe here and had gone to computer school before finding more lucrative work in security. And he has a tale to tell, of people going mad, with his only recourse of blowing all the air out, freezing the crazies solid. He had mad computer skilz.

Thus begins (yeah yeah, long recap already, for just the setup) a typical infection / possession story, as once again the arriving team begins to go crazy and begin killing the others. But some don't go bonkers as quickly as others, so even though Whit knows he is infected, he wants to stay calm and try and work out what is going on. There is lots of gritting of teeth and fighting, weeding the team down to Whit and one other. Along the way they find out that the resource the mine had been digging up was also a lifeform that had the ability to take over and mimic cells it infected. But no, not a rehash of The Thing, but more taking control of the body from the inside out -- assimilation through biological replacement. All the meat of the movie is rather bland, typical of other movies, but then... the end.

You would think they would have the typical ending where they identify that this infection cannot be allowed to reach the Earth, that the only solution is for everyone to die. But no, Whit as the sole survivor just has an argument with himself, yelling to the he who he is becoming, and then slitting his own wrists.  He makes a very good point, that an alien life form that is smart enough (or engineered well enough) to replicate the cells of and become the host lifeform, then why does it have to use VIOLENCE to direct that assimilation? There are so many ways first contact could happen.

Maybe it was angry at being used as a power source, or maybe it was at the core of human beings to turn to violence, so the aliens just used that. But whatever the reason, Whit gets through and bing! everyone is alive. It was only a bad dream! Whit is confused, as his arm his healed but the sticky dried blood is still there. And everyone who was killed, or he killed, is standing there. And ready to go home. Teleportation in 10 minutes.

What? What about the evil, assimilating ice cube aliens? Did Whit get through? They obviously repaired everyone's dead bodies but ... but ... they can still come through and take over the Earth, right? Did Whit's monologue break the (newly formed) hearts of these aliens and convince them of the sanctity of life? As the gang fades away, Whit looks up to see said alien jelly ice cube creatures in  the shape of human beings. All is well.

Groan.

Neat idea, badly played out, but neat idea.

Discuss.