Review – Infini
New science fiction cinema, more than most genres, is always riffing on past productions. Cherry picking from the best can produce bland results (see: Joseph Koinski’s Oblivion), while a devoted acknowledgment of inspiration can allow for a film to stand on its own by building on ideas and aesthetics. Within the first 30 minutes of Infini a list of cinematic foundations is clear. Writer and director Shane Abbess throws in shades of Event Horizon, Aliens, The Thing and The Abyss, all excellent wells to creatively draw from, but the filmmaker is clever to not rest on these influences. Infini gains its independence as a tense little mystery with plenty to muse on.
In the future, a rescue team (Grace Huang, Luke Hemsworth, Bren Foster, Luke Ford, Dwaine Stevenson, Louisa Mignone and Kevin Copeland) is sent to a mining colony on the edge of the galaxy to rescue Whit Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson), the lone survivor of a biological outbreak.
Infini opens with a few red flag tropes. Carmichael is introduced nervously preparing for his first day working a dangerous job while his pregnant wife begs him to return safely; we know terrible things follow this kind of conversation and we’re being begged to care. Luckily, Carmichael’s rookie status makes him the perfect specimen for the chaos he’s about to endure. The character wears his heart on his sleeve when the going gets tough, and rather than becoming an instant action hero, MacPherson’s ace performance shows Carmichael’s vulnerability and drive to survive rather than fight back. Carmichael’s desire to get home is slowly earned and the crisis of tropes is averted. The rest of the ensemble don’t fare as well due to their cannon fodder status, despite committed performances from the supporting cast when the rescue mission goes haywire.
The dialogue is an endurance test of lifeless expository dialogue, lots of shouting, and the repetitive ‘oh shit’ reaction to each development. Abbess has a decent handle on the story and how tension and mystery serve the plot. The production design on the derelict mining colony is superb, and there are plenty of dark corridors, blasting steam vents, and rooms featuring scenes of unfinished carnage to plunge you deeper into curiosity. Abbess’ camera steadily sweeps around corners waiting for the secret to reveal itself. Abbess upends the frame and skewers it at uncomfortable angles as the characters lose their grip on sanity, but the focus remains on each figure, no shaky camerawork, no frenetic editing, it’s sleek and intensive. The steady reveal of the cause of biological outbreak is handled deftly and there’s enough time for a little self-examination of mankind – the true mark of all outstanding science fiction – before Abbess throws in a few final twists to make Infini leave a solid impression despite a few scrappy edges.
Infini is now available to rent or purchase on iTunes and other digital platforms in Australia.
The Popcorn Junkie