The current renaissance in independent British genre films shows no signs of abating with psychological sci-fi horror “The Scopia Effect”, available now exclusively on iTunes.
Marking the feature debut of writer/ director Christopher Butler, the film takes us on a transcendental journey into the mind of Basia (Joanna Ignaczewska) , a young Polish office worker who undergoes hypnotic regression therapy to help treat her depression. Recalling childhood memories of her mother are only the beginning though and soon her and her unorthodox therapist uncover something darker and more dangerous: memories of past lives. But when these past lives start to bleed into the present, Basia finds herself fighting to stay in control of both her sanity and her very existence.
Despite some awkwardness in the opening scenes, the performances of the cast are generally very good, especially Ignaczewska who gives Basia an honest and raw intensity as an ordinary woman whose reality crumbles around her as the truth of her past reincarnations is slowly revealed.
Although the film is ambitious in scope it’s often a little too vague in its execution to make the most of its fascinating premise. The script could have done with a couple of polishes to take the rough edges off some of the dialogue and provide a slightly stronger narrative but it’s in the direction and cinematography that the film really impresses. Butler shoots it in a disconcertingly voyeuristic style which elevates both the film and the performances. The every day settings are used to great effect and, despite a modest budget, the film manages to feel expansively international during the historic flashbacks to other times and places. The slow and deliberate pacing won’t be to everyone’s taste but your patience is rewarded with a visually striking film exploring the ideas of reincarnation and reality which bears favourable comparison to Darren Aronofsky’s “The Fountain” and the Wachowski’s “Cloud Atlas”.
“The Scopia Effect” is thought provoking, inscrutable and suffused with a unnervingly trippy ambience. Despite its flaws, it’s still an astonishingly impressive debut and you should definitely add the name Christopher Butler to your list of directors to watch.