Infini harks back to a more innocent time – the wild frontier of the 80s VHS era where sci-fi horror films ruled the video shop shelves. While most were awful, every now and again you’d stumble on a grubby gem – silly, gleefully gory things like Galaxy Of Terror or Leviathan.
Whether it intends to or not, Infini, written and directed by Australia’s Shaun Abbess, revives the spirit of those B-grade shockers. Like a lot of genre films of modest means, it shakes up familiar elements like a cup of dice and casts them for our amusement; the simplest way to describe Infini is as Solaris on magic mushrooms. A less simple way to describe it would be as a noisy collision of Alien, The Thing, Event Horizon and The Quatermass Experiment.
In the 23rd century, almost ubiquitous poverty has driven much of humanity’s less wealthy into taking on dangerous jobs in off-world mining colonies. With a matter-transporting device called the Apex, we can jump from Earth to a distant station in an instant – which means we’ll be able to clock on for a day’s mining on the other side of the galaxy, then warp ourselves back to our wife and kids when our shift’s over.
Unfortunately for Whit Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson of Neighbours and The Bill fame), what should be a regular day’s work soon goes south. He’s warped to Earth’s furthest outpost (the Infini of the title) where something dreadful has taken over the entire base. An armed rescue team is despatched to find out what happened and, if possible, bring Whit home safely. But one by one, the rescue team also succumb to whatever it is that has already turned the base into a frozen, corpse-strewn tomb.
Abbess does his best with a low budget, but the joins often show. The base has the flimsy quality of a Red Dwarf set, while the guns wielded by the team wouldn’t look out of place at your local Laser Quest. The indifferent set design’s enlivened by some decent lighting that highlights the claustrophobia in Abbess’s tale, which still manages to intrigue despite its familiarity.
Like quite a number of sci-fi films with an extended group of tough soldier-types, Infini initially fails the Aliens test: we struggle to differentiate one chiselled jawline from another. Among the rescuers you’ll find the likes of Luke Hemsworth, Grace Huang, Henry Foster and Harry Pavlidis, who are given precious little time to establish their characters. Among the cast, MacPherson acquits himself the best as the central character, a soldier desperate to get off the station and return to his pregnant wife.
The nature of the threat on the base – and what, exactly, its effect on the dwindling group of soldiers actually is – keeps us guessing, which is just as well, because Abbess allows some of his scenes to run too long. Once you’ve seen one angry soldier scream at another soldier until their cheeks go livid, you’ve seen them all. Infini also contains one of the most comically futile punch-ups since John Carpenter’s classic They Live.
Fitfully suspenseful even when we’re distracted by the rubbery nature of the firearms, the events in Infini’s second half fail to match the build-up of its first. Infini ultimately disappoints not because of its production values, but because its story doesn’t really go anywhere other sci-fi films haven’t boldly gone before.
Infini is out in UK cinemas on the 18th September.
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