Gold Coast Film Festival Review: The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One (Australia, 2016) is Star Wars on a shoestring

In ninety-five minutes, The Osiris Child recreates the past twenty years of sci-fi. It’s a fast blend of genre styles new and old, reaching screens in the format of a graphic novel and touching bases with every ‘humanity in crisis’ story ever told. While never profound, The Osiris Child achieves its vision, but the lack of storytelling stunts the potential of the Aussie sci-fi flick.

Told non-linear, the film follows Kane (Daniel MacPherson) who is a Lieutenant in Ex-O, a company that controls humankind’s exploration into space. The planet where Kane has taken shift is barren aside from a few outposts and a maximum-security prison where convicts labour to terraform the planet.

As convict Sy (Kellen Lutz) escapes from the prison, he unwittingly unleashes Ex-O’s genetically fabricated monster, the Ragged, unto the planet above, calling for Ex-O general (Rachel Griffiths) to nuke the planet and cover up the company’s secret weapons program. Kane must reach his daughter before the nuke hits, and with the help from Sy they head for her as the Raggeds begin to consume the planet.

The visual approach of The Osiris Child harmonises a comic book narrative with a Mad Max Fury Road aesthetic and shoots it somewhere into distant space. The concept designs are original and add to the recycled ideas that shade most of the film. The space ships designed to shift into a position where they can hover and fire in a 360-degree radius or the constantly rotating isolation chambers in the heart of the prison evidence innovation in the sci-fi genre.

It’s the tribute to films past that could be divisive among viewers. The Raggeds are for the most part, real people in carefully crafted costumes. These costumes while meticulously designed, don’t come close to convincing audiences of their legitimacy. When the actors beneath the suits walk or communicate, it looks unnatural and the creatures never appear to be dangerous or even mobile. It’s a costume that resembles late 50’s Godzilla and while it may not bring with it the suspended disbelief that blockbuster CGI does, it provides character to the film, and gives a nod to the genre’s foundations.

From start to finish The Osiris Child flicks through its chapters back and forth and the score from Brian Cachia manages to calm the chaos when necessary. The narrative however never forms from the dialogue, but instead from cheap techniques that come in between the nonstop action scenes. There’s almost no downtime to the action, and the compromise is a series confusing cuts and an underdeveloped  plot.

The story is inserted by Kane’s Daughter Indi (Teagan Croft) as she fills the gaps with exposition monologues that cover the film for another next twenty-minutes of uninterrupted action. For such a well-crafted world and atmosphere, built also on a shoestring budget, the narrative reaching its summit at a ‘monster inside us’ theme lets the rest of the film down, and pushes it closer to a Battlefield Earth pastiche than a Star Wars one.

The acting is also a mixed bag in Osiris Child. There are strong performances from Temuera Morrison and the young Teagen Croft, with some weaker ones from the senior cast. Director Shane Abbess has managed to incite serious emotion in Teagan’s performance, but for a two-film partnership, there is little magic with Daniel MacPherson. His exchanges with the Yolandi Visser doppelganger Gyp (Isabel Lucas) and daughter Indi, are awkward and out of touch with the strong chemistry he finds with Kellan Lutz.

Shane Abbess has crafted another solid film for one of the Antipodes best genres. It’s a film fettered around the edges, but also a film so intelligently produced and executed that it is entertaining just to become momentarily a part of the world it brings to screen. And if nothing else, it’s a film that can say it reached its destination without compromise.

Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One will arrive in Australian Cinemas on May 18th 2017. It was reviewed at the Gold Coast Film Festival.