Anti-Matter is a low-tech, science-fiction thriller written and directed by the highly acclaimed, up-and-coming film-maker, Keir Burrows. But despite everything that would normally go against a small, low-budget production such as this, Burrows delivers something quite special.
The South African born film-maker is beginning to turn some heads as he strides from strength to strength picking up numerous awards and accolades along the way. Anti-Matter is Burrows’ first feature-length movie, but you wouldn’t think it. This is a well written, well devised and produced piece of sci-fi cinema. But don’t expect interstellar space battles, or a huge budget special effects driven planet buster, this is much more of a high concept thinker’s movie. Set present day in the shadows of Oxford University, England, three research students set about perfecting a method of matter transfer. Amongst the dark and dusty confines of their make-shift attic laboratory on campus, they develop the technology for teleportation. Quite by accident of course, yet they set about tirelessly perfecting the procedure. After a series of successful trials, they decide that they need to up the scale of their research and this inevitably leads to a series of organic subjects before a final human trial. Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) volunteers to be the guinea pig, and this is where it all begins to kick off.
As soon as Ana teleports, the whole feel of the movie changes. From this point on it is obvious that something is amiss. And although it’s easy for any hardened sci-fi fan to guess even at this early stage what’s happening, the film endeavors to entertain. Ana takes us on a mind-spinning thrill-ride of suspicion and paranoia as her reality unravels and the people closest to her become distant and secretive. Ana begins to see things and struggles with inexplicable memory loss, to the extent that she must resort to writing herself notes. Imagine a rather condensed and claustrophobic version of Christopher Nolan’s Memento, but with science.
Award-winning Gerry Vasbenter does a wonderful job as the cinematographer. His polished atmospheric visuals and smooth transitions between the past and present are complimented nicely by Edwin Sykes’ understated score that together makes this movie a pleasure to watch.
Anti-Matter is a beautifully made film, with a deceptively high sheen feel about it. It is, however, well-trodden ground and reminiscent of so many Star Trek episodes, and any number of other science fiction stories that involve teleporters going awry. Despite this, the science seems legitimate enough to a lay-person, but what really grabs you is the theoretical propositions this film makes. Questions I find myself wanting to understand as much as the characters themselves. Questions such as, ‘What is the human soul?’ ‘Does a brain full of memories weigh more than a brain without?’ ‘Do thoughts have substance?’
The film trundles along at a nice pace, slowly building suspense and tension. Wonderful performances all around from a fine cast. Burrows has made a big statement with this his first full-length feature and whets the appetite of this moviegoer for what is yet to come from him. An honest, good quality film. If you have had the fortune of catching an episode of Charlie Brooker’s ‘Black Mirror’ series, then this is one for you. Anti-Matter is thoroughly entertaining, thought-provoking and well deserving of all its plaudits.