Director: Tom Paton
Cast: Jade Hobday, Marc Zammit, Adam Bond, Luke D’Silva, Bentley Kalu, Amed Hashimi, Laura Marie Howard
Length: 82 minutes
PANDORICA is an immensely deceptive film. As the film opens, the audience must wade through a brief yet hefty amount of expositional text on-screen, a backstory introducing them to the world this film is set in. One shouldn’t dismiss such tactics at first glance after all, but PANDORICA’s opening chunks of text come off as HUNGER GAMES fan-fiction, and given how such other post-apocalyptic teen dramas such as Divergent are currently leaving a bitter aftertaste in everyone’s mouth, things aren’t exactly boding well for this flick.
However, as mentioned, PANDORICA is a trickster. It’s as if director/writer Tom Paton is getting the less effective stuff out of the way as quickly as possible, because PANDORICA is an undeniably strong achievement in indie film-making. This sci-fi/fantasy/horror/thriller is a potent blend of raw immediacy and crisp action, with a rugged sense of homespun badassery.
PANDORICA is set in a world that’s plunged into a new dark age where humanity devolves into vicious, primal state. A trio of youths, Eiren, Ares and Thade, have been selected to take part in the leadership trials of The Varosha Tribe, with the winner claiming the tribe for themselves. They must battle dark and mysterious forces if one of them is to win, but not everyone is worthy of becoming a leader, and the trio soon learn that fighting each other may be the only path to victory.
Although its mixture of styles is ambitious. PANDORICA makes full use of its indie credentials. The thriller side of things radiates the most throughout its compact running time, but PANDORICA’s usage of science fiction, fantasy and horror is surprisingly, and pleasantly, understated, resulting in the film never losing its firm grasp on its sense of style – and boy, what style this film has!
PANDORICA’s set-up of humanity reduced to a near Neanderthal state matches its production values. Everything is so undiluted, so honest and genuine in its merciless thrills. Hell, for all I know, PANDORICA may well have started off as HUNGER GAMES fan-fiction, but it’s wonderfully brutish atmosphere transcends such origins. The characters and plot themselves match this effect with their simple, two-dimensional nature, but that shouldn’t be taken as an insult. Their two-dimensional nature compliments rather than distracts the film’s overall appeal.
The story itself takes place in just about one solitary location, a brittle forest in the dead of night. It’s just one of the many things about PANDORICA that screams immediacy, and although the film’s trimmed nature may be lost on some, there’s a genuine feeling of menace to this film. PANDORICA has a snarl and a bite to it that doesn’t rely on CGI, or indeed any high-tech flash at all. It’s all in the craftsmanship, the harmonious relationship between all its elements.
PANDORICA masquerades as being a sprawling mess, brimming with apocalyptic themes and blending multiple genres into one, when in fact it teases the audience with this identity before rapidly transforming into a far more original and focused affair. Its relentless, throbbing atmosphere keeps you hooked throughout, and its action-orientated script, tasteful casting and gorgeously-crafted cinematography make for a compelling cinematic experience.
PANDORICA is released on April the 1st! You can find out more via the film’s website here!