Monday, 15 February 2016

Review- The Scopia Effect

For his debut full length feature, Christopher Butler has taken a massive risk and totally disconnected with his audience. Is this the worst Independent Film I have ever seen or a work of cinematic genius? Now released on DVD...

One of the things I love so much about Independent Film is that it never feels like a safe or tame experience. Unrestrained by the constrictions of Hollywood or 'the suits' you never know what you are going to get. Cinema should be wild and untamed and at all times you should feel that literally anything can happen. The Scopia Effect is a film that definitely fits this description but Butler has taken a huge risk with his debut feature. I have often said that cinema should connect with its audience, that they should be made to feel part of the events that are unfolding. Truly inspired film making allows the audience to empathise and emotionally connect with the characters portrayed on screen and the result is something that Hollywood can only dream of. Failure to achieve this means that an audience does not care about anything that is happening and by extension does not pay attention to what they are being shown. The Scopia Effect tells the story of Basia, a young woman who is struggling to come to terms with the tragic death of her mother. As Basia undergoes psychotherapy she inadvertently unlocks areas of her brain that should never be seen and releases a terrible and unnamed force. So far so good and it sounds perfectly acceptable horror genre material. Innocent vs evil and a titanic battle for supremacy, indeed it sounds like the well worn path that has been tread so many times by previous films. 

The Scopia Effect is visually arresting as scenes are viciously cut without explanation with disturbing time shifts through Basia's past lives. Throughout the first 40 minutes of the film no attempt is made to connect with the audience and the temptation to give up and watch something else building with every second. I have to be honest at this stage and say that, had I not been reviewing the film, I would have switched off. This would have been a monumental mistake! Butler has created a masterpiece that simply takes your breath away! The assured and strong direction results in a film that delivers such a punch you are left gasping for air as the credits roll.Joanna Ignaczewska's is simply astounding as Basia with a central performance that completes Butler's wonderful writing. The Scopia Effect is a film that would not be made had it been submitted through main stream cinema. It is only in the final ten minutes of the film that it snaps into sharp definition and the reality of what has been unravelling becomes clear. Stand out moments for me are the scenes which Basia reaches out to her mum in the dream sequences. The use of light and colour contrast are sublime and add to the disconnected, other worldly ambiance that permeates the entire film. 

It is difficult to divulge too much detail when reviewing The Scopia Effect as to do so would lessen the sledge hammer blow it delivers on a first watch. I would strongly recommend a second or third viewing as knowing the direction the film is taking just makes you enjoy the performances even more. Louis Labovitch is wonderful in his portrayal of Basia's psychotherapy, Dr Edward Stanton, it is his hypnotherapy that tips Basia into the nightmarish world that she can barely fathom. Whilst some of the dialogue is delivered  a little too perfectly and Butler has a tendency to overuse the artistic overhead shots rather than straight to camera, the distraction these faults caused were minor compared to the overall effect of the film. I cannot overstate the admiration I have for Butler who accentuates the disconnect Basia feels with the world around her by plunging the audience into the same situation. I look forward with great anticipation to Butler's next project. Yet again Independent Films prove that they have the edge over the rather safe and pedestrian output of Hollywood.

You can check out The Scopia Effect trailer here

The Scopia Effect is available on iTunes in the UK here and from Amazon

You can order the DVD here

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