Daniel Cruse’s review published on Letterboxd:
There’s nothing quite as special as seeing a feature length debut with this many newcomers and such a low budget manage to be so engaging and enjoyable. I’ve anticipated this film for so long so as soon as I saw it streaming on Hulu, I stopped everything to check it out. Directors Zeek Earl and Chris Chris Caldwell create a stunning and ambitious film that brilliantly balances science fiction world building with tense character driven action. There are great performances from Sophie Thatcher and Pedro Pascal especially, and a special shout-out goes to Zeek for the cinematography as well cause this film is beautifully shot at times. There’s a little too much shaky cam in scenes where it’s not called for but that didn’t ruin the movie for me and there are plenty of sequences that have really great camerawork.
The VFX and science fiction elements are really well done. There are a few shots of space or planets visible from the sky that look a little sloppy, which is most definitely a budgetary issue, but it’s clear to me that they knew their limits and were far more reserved with VFX than a lesser filmmaker would’ve been. This film, though ambitious, never manages to overextend itself. The production design is fantastic and Aidan Vitti really knocked it out of the park with the costumes.
My feelings towards this film seem to be very in line with what everyone else was saying about 2018’s indie sci fi flick, The Endless, a film I admittedly did not care for very much. Both are really low budget and tell interesting stories that involve science fiction elements, but where The Endless disappointed me in terms of the VFX work, the acting, pacing, and dialogue, this film just really worked for me. I think most of the performances in this film are good and Pedro Pascal joining the cast likely lended a great deal of credibility to the project. He is so overwhelmingly charming to me in every role I’ve seen of his, can’t wait to check him out in The Mandalorian.
This is what low budget sci fi should be all about, interesting practical effects melded into the natural world to create a setting that feels equal parts familiar and foreign, a character driven story that finds momentum in creating tension with subtlety. It’s a great debut feature and I look forward to whatever these guys do next after seeing how much I enjoyed this film. It drags a tiny bit during the start of the third act but quickly picks up the pace again and finishes off strong.
Great production design, a nice musical score, the fantastic concept, and solid characters make this one of the most memorable sci fi outings I’ve seen recently.
Just adding to this that I’ve been sleeping on Hulu for too long cause they’ve got a lot of 2018 releases I missed in theaters and have been very excited to see like this film, Vox Lux, and The Sisters Brothers.