Anti Matter Movie Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Written and directed by Keir Burrows
2017, 109 minutes, Not Rated
Released on September 8th, 2017.
Yaiza Figuero as Ana
Philippa Carson as Liv
Tom Barber-Duffy as Nate
By now I’m used to arthouse horror movies where nothing happens and then you’re “shown” the truth: humans are the real monsters. What I’m not used to are science fiction movies with a touch of horror suddenly becoming a strange version of that. In the case of Anti Matter, which could be called a sci-fi noir, a movie full of tension with decent acting, and with a solid premise, starts slowly spiraling into a narrative about obsession full of scenes that try too hard to maintain the overwrought atmosphere while holding on to a secret that is not really that surprising and sort of takes the plot out through the easiest exit.
In Anti Matter, Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) is an Oxford PhD student who is obsessed with her research as an experimental physicist. In a nutshell, she makes matter momentarily disappear from one place and reappear in another (call it dematerialization or wormhole travelling if you want!). As the experiments grow in size and scope, she ends up becoming the “object” in one of her team’s attempts. The experiment is successful, but the happiness is short-lived because Ana soon finds herself unable to remember things about her days or where she was for hours at a time. Her team is reluctant to answer her questions, and that only exacerbates her desperation. With shady characters approaching her in the streets and asking about her research, the constant sense of being lost, and many more questions than answers in her head, Ana enters a world of confusion in which she frantically looks for an explanation as her life spirals into total chaos.
Here’s the thing about this movie: it’s not bad. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s superb. There are a few things they get right. For example, the atmosphere they build in the first half of the film is very good. They also have great sound and production value. Sadly, the main problem is the script. After getting the audience hooked on mystery and that certain excitement that comes from Ana’s successful experiments, the narrative gets progressively weirder (which is not a bad thing), and ultimately leads to a finale that falls short, especially considering all that came before it. I understand that writing about things like wormholes is very tricky, but one of the best things about science fiction is that anything goes, so they could have written a better finale. Furthermore, while I’m not a fan of excessive backstory, there is a strange connection to Puerto Rico that is muddled by the bizarre accents of Ana’s mother, who is clearly Spanish. Small details like that make or break a film when the viewer is on the fence about it, and they push to the wrong side here.
The most difficult thing is explaining how a movie can be somewhat interesting (a subjective term) but not quite entertaining (another subjective term). In the case of this movie, that explanation takes a backseat to one fact: the last third moves very quickly to an unsatisfactory resolution. In other words, there is a lot of great buildup, but then the movie gets stuck at the peak of its crescendo and stays there, lingering like an unwelcome visitor. Fast edits and lines delivered at the edge of a panic attack are great, but they get old fast. Then, by the time everything is about to end, what happens is more or less the definition of anticlimactic. Worth a watch? Sure, because it stands above most other low budget sci-fi and ramps up the tension in the first half. However, you don’t need to rush to it, mostly because, as this movie proves, too much rushing to get nowhere is always a bad thing.