The Vast of Night [2019]

“People are saying there’s something in the sky.”


Image description: The image says the following: Directors: Andrew Patterson / Genres: Sci-fi Fantasy Thriller / Year: 2019 / Rating: ****_ / Review: This nostalgic film pays homage to 1950s sci-fi, with two main characters thrust together when they hear a mysterious sound over the radio. The film captivated me, and the way the film was shot made me feel like I was there, tagging along to solve a mystery, only really being pulled out of it at the end. Some scenes in this film are like a masterclass in cinematography (I'm thinking particularly of the long single shot scene). An otherwise simple script and question: where do they all keep disappearing to? I think it's aliens, mate. Worth the watch!

Image description: The image says the following: Directors: Andrew Patterson / Genres: Sci-fi Fantasy Thriller / Year: 2019 / Rating: ****_ / Review: This nostalgic film pays homage to 1950s sci-fi, with two main characters thrust together when they hear a mysterious sound over the radio. The film captivated me, and the way the film was shot made me feel like I was there, tagging along to solve a mystery, only really being pulled out of it at the end. Some scenes in this film are like a masterclass in cinematography (I’m thinking particularly of the long single shot scene). An otherwise simple script and question: where do they all keep disappearing to? I think it’s aliens, mate. Worth the watch!

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Psycho Goreman [2020]

“It would be nicer if you were dead!”


So, starting back after a little summer holiday hiatus with a little fun…. Psycho Goreman is 2020 film directed by Steven Kostanski. It’s somewhere between sci-fi, fantasy, horror and gore, as the title implies. The film has themes of monsters, creature feature, space and aliens. It has obviously been dated and has the feel of an 80s or 90s film to me. 

Anyways so synopsis! The main stars, two siblings Mimi and Luke are playing a game only they know the rules to when they come across an unusual gem in a hole in their garden. Shortly after, a monstrous figure emerges from the same hole and creates a path of destruction and death. It identifies himself as “Arch Duke of Nightmares” and reveals its plan to destroy and imprison everything and everyone in its path. Looking for the gem, it meets Mimi and Luke, and Mimi discovers that the gem actually controls the monster who she names Psycho Goreman (or PG for short). She then wields this power for her own amusement. An intergalactic panel arrange to send a warrior down to earth to kill PG. Meanwhile we learn that PG’s aggression is an act of vengeance after his enslavement by the same group of beings now being sent to kill him. There’s some sub-plot stuff going on in the film where the parents of Mimi and Luke are clearly in dire need of a divorce (they’re truly awful people), Luke’s best friend gets turned into a brain, PG wreaks havoc on a policeman turning him into a zombified thing and manipulates Luke into revolting against Mimi in a bid to recover the stone. It all comes to a head with a final battle where Mimi fights Luke, Mum fights Dad, PG fights the warrior. With no end in sight, Mimi proposes a final battle using the game Mimi and Luke created together. It’s hard to describe what this game actually entailed due its complex rules and even harder for the characters to understand themselves but in any case, Mimi’s team wins, the gem is given back to PG and he promises to spare the family. The final scenes are of PG’s rampage across the universe. 

So, what do I think? The film as a whole is awful but in a really fun way. The acting was over the top and it felt like, as with a lot of gore films, many scenes were super gorey for the sake of gore like this crazy scene where we see the warehouse which is PG’s first stop in the film and it’s the most incredible scene you’ve ever witnessed. Body parts all over the walls, and a random guy’s eyes are just rolling back into his head into infinitum all because he said “I don’t want to die” so PG says “don’t worry I’ll make you live forever” and he is true to his word, leaving this poor homeless man in absolute hellish never ending agony. Brilliant. It’s so horrible that it ends up being really funny, sorta like when Joker does these truly heinous things to people in Batman films and there’s something so disgusting and amusing about it all. 

The young Mimi character in this is so sassy. She’s the perfect actress for this film and she’s kind of awful as well. I liked that she was so annoying that she didn’t read like a child acting as a child, she just felt genuinely like an aggravating brat. She used any opportunity to tell her dysfunctional parents to fuck of; there was really no telling her what to do, especially because they were the worst parents of all time. In a sense they were too caught up on their own stuff to really understand that their kids were in terrible danger until the last minute. They even met PG and their first instinct wasn’t to get the hell out of there. I like that the dad was very obviously going through huge trauma, i.e. there is something very wrong with this guy. He’s seen something that traumatised him. On the face of it, he seemed like a really lazy man taking advantage of a hyper functional wife but there were moments when he would look into the distance and you could see the whites of his eyes and you knew he was a broken man. 

One of the funniest moments is just a small bit where Mimi asks if PG wants a magazine of hot hunky boys and PG says “I DO NOT LIKE HOT HUNKY BOYS” and then he quickly changes his mind with “MAYBE I DO LIKE HOT HUNKY BOYS”. It was such an unnecessary moment to the plot but very amusing. There are many moments like this in the film that are unnecessary but wildly entertaining. Another moment like that is about Luke‘s best friend, who was turned into a brain which I mentioned earlier. It’s really not talked about in the film. Even when the film concludes and Mimi returns the stone to PG, there is no resolution for the kid who got turned into a brain. There is the scene at the end where you see him going to eat dinner with his parents are totally silent. Presumably enough time has passed and they have come to terms with this but it’s just such a weird scene. His hands are flopping around while he tries to use the fork and knife to eat. Can you imagine him becoming an adult brain? Can he have a family? What will he go on to work as? Does he have the average intelligence of a child or does the size of his brain-bod increase his intelligence? It’s really bizarre and I have questions. And the terrible fact is that it’s Mimi’s fault that he becomes like this, which really brings into question who is the real monster here: Is it PG or is it Mimi?

I mean.. Imagine being in the room when someone pitched the idea for this film. 

Film guy: Hey so there's a gem yeah, and a child finds it and it controls the ultimate villain of the universe. 
Some guy with money: Ok… 
Film guy: So the kid wields it over him
Some guy with money: Right… 
Film guy: But he manages to destroy a bunch of people, turn a child into a brain and fuse a gun to the hand of cop and zombify him
Some guy with money: And? 
Film guy: And there’s a warrior that looks like a mechanical angel you would expect to see in Doctor Who and some aliens who get killed with space knives
Some guy with money: Hmm
Film guy: And the villain promises not to kill her but then he kills literally everyone else 
Some guy with money: …
Film guy: And somehow I want to throw in a confusing kid’s game into the mix that no one knows how to play
Some guy with money: … 
Film guy: Are we making this or what?! **motions to do a high five but gets denied**

That is how I imagine it went, yet somehow this film was made. 

So all in all, entertaining and fun film to watch. Probably not going to win any awards and I question how and why it was made, but it was a fun couple of hours nonetheless. 

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Fantastic Planet, aka La planète sauvage [1973]

“What a shame we can’t play with her any more.”


First off, let me tell you right now… This is not a film about a ‘Fantastic Planet’ as the name suggests. It’s actually a pretty terrible planet with terrible beings!

The story begins following a mother and her baby who are being tortured. The mother is from a species of humanoids/humans called Oms who are much smaller than the dominating species (Draags) on the planet they live on. The Draags have brought these Oms to their own planet where they are technologically more advanced. From the offset, we see the Draags treat Oms like their little playthings. In fact, we see the aforementioned mother brutally murdered but as the film is animated style, even though it’s tragic, there’s something quite unreal about it so as it doesn’t feel as brutal as it should be.

The baby is ‘saved’ by a young child Draag called Tiwa who wishes to keep it and a retractable collar is put on the baby so it cannot escape. We see the young Draag play with the baby as it grows and names it Terr. It seems like Tiwa genuinely loves Terr and she cradles Terr, as well as sharing her lessons with him through this telepathic headpiece device, even though it is forbidden by her parents. Eventually, Tiwa becomes careless with Terr as her ‘pet’ and Terr decides to run away (stealing the headset). He runs into more of his own species who help him remove the collar and eventually embrace him into their group. Many think that the education that Terr brings is dangerous, but it turns out to save many of the Oms people in the end. The group he joins is at war with another group of Oms. It seems like despite the fact they literally have bigger problems, they can’t help but fight among themselves!

With the knowledge the headset has given them, the Oms build rockets with the intention to leave the planet for the planet’s moon which they call the ‘Fantastic Planet’. However the Draag intend to eradicate them and start to gas the park they all live in fearing the seemingly rebellious act of Terr, concerned that others will follow suit and that the education they are now afforded will be dangerous. To retaliate, the Om destroy a bunch of statues which it turns out threatens the existence of the Draag. The Draag and the Om come to a peaceful resolution.

First off, the animation in this film was incredible. You don’t see films made like this any more, really. The surreal, vivid colours and imaginative creatures, plants, landscapes and soundscapes are so interesting to watch and hear and it’s no surprise that this film is so iconic. It really is quite a beautiful creation. The soundscape is undeniably 70s because there’s something quite funky about it.

The Draag, despite on the surface being more intelligent, are very savage to the Oms, just because they can. It’s completely normalised by the adult Draag that Oms can be treated poorly and there is this pervasive idea shared that Oms are savage and unintelligent like they deserve to be treated that way almost. It’s quite alarming and striking to watch, because it’s quite reminiscent of the way white colonialists used to talk about Black/Indigenous people, and it’s the way that a lot of racist white people talk to this day, with this air of superiority. Something that is touched on in many sci-fi books but also in a recent book we read in SOPHFIFEST THE READERS club, is how ‘dominating species’ tend to be super arrogant that their elite, superior intellect puts them on top and that any sub-dominant species or group not only do not have the smarts but wouldn’t dream of overthrowing them. The specific book I am thinking of is Ursula Le Guin’s ‘The word for world is forest’ where the human species feel like the indigenous peoples are savage and unintelligent and a peaceful species, that they would never ‘fight back’. We learn of course that their arrogance is unfounded and of course, the indigenous peoples certainly make the humans very foolish indeed! And the same is true for this story. The Draag televise these lengthy intellectual debates, regaling how superior they are. They don’t even see the attack on their existence coming. I really really like that they don’t, and it just shows that if you work together that you can do anything. Even overthrow a brutal alien species!

My only criticism would be that I didn’t believe the ending. If my peoples had been tortured our whole life, I would absolutely have destroyed all of those damn statues, but I appreciate that the intention is for a hopeful ending rather than one filled with carnage.

All in all, gorgeous film. Really well put together. Interesting story. It’s a must-watch!

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Skyman [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“I looked up and there it was, just hovering, a giant black triangle…”


Only one more day left of SciFi London 2020, I’m so sad! I decided to only watch one feature film today after four straight days of science fiction, so I hope you enjoy this review of the second science fiction film of the day, Skyman.

Skyman, directed by Daniel Myrick (who was co-Director of the cult classic supernatural horror, The Blair Witch Project) is a documentary style film following Carl Merryweather who is famous in his town for having made contact with an alien. This alien supposedly spoke to him telepathically when he was 10 years old. The film starts 30 years later and interviews Carl, his family and people in the town to hear the story and see if there is any truth to it. Carl talks about his experience and describes the meeting, that he heard a low hum which he has heard multiple times since the interaction and that the alien had told him not to be afraid, that it was looking for someone like him. The film later follows him as he goes about his life, visiting family, at a UFO convention and while he is creating tech with a friend to help capture what he describes will be a return of the alien. He is convinced this will happen on his 40th birthday.

The fictional docu-makers don’t offer up their own critical perspective of Carl, but rather leave it totally open for viewers to make up their own minds. The style of this movie is quite DIY looking and at times appears quite rough like it’s made with a camcorder, but this add to the charm of the film. The ending of the film appears conclusive as to if Carl was right or not – but I won’t spoil the ending for you…

There’s not much to say about this movie. I really enjoyed it. It’s not a complicated film, with a complicated plot, but it was just done superbly. I didn’t stay for the Q&A this time unfortunately, so I missed what the director said of the film, but I loved that Carl wasn’t painted to be the ‘town idiot’ like many abduction type films out there. He seemed quite competent, and his resolute belief wasn’t creepy. It was endearing and almost childlike. I found myself wanting to believe too, for Carl’s sake.. I think that perhaps he had been stuck in the past his whole life, stuck in that moment when he was 10 years old, so his childlike, excited nature really came through in this film. Like even the fact he calls the alien a Skyman is something that a ten year old would do. An adult would call it an alien, but children say it like they see it. He came from the sky, he was a man (as far as young Carl knows) so he is SKYMAN.

So yeah, excellent film. Really glad to have seem it. Very endearing, well done film. Definitely, definitely go check it out.

For more info about the film, go here.

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A report on the party & the guests [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“Good afternoon citizen. Is your life without meaning?”


This Danish film, directed by Søren Peter Langkjær Bojsen, is a really unusual one. A creature who calls himself Rudolph washes up on a beach in Estonia with his unconscious mother. He talks some nearby strangers to help him get her to a car, saying she has heat stroke and that she passed out. He takes her to some sort of warehouse where they can recover. Meanwhile, we find out that an epidemic called Saudad has ravaged the human population. At the same time (possibly because of this) technology seems to be fully automated to the point that humans aren’t really needed and are kind of irrelevant. There are a number of conspiracies which we see through a YouTube channel called TruthRage, that some automatons are amongst us and that they infiltrate into top positions in society, and we see various other conspiracies throughout the film from this channel. It seems like they are suggesting that humans are being controlled by these beings and we are told “they’re just following their instincts”.

Rudolph quickly inserts himself into normal society and gets himself a job in technology for Intuflex who seem to do some work relating to technology and intuition (he is told “your intuition will shape the future”) although it’s unclear exactly what this company does. When not at work, he observes human life. He also obsesses over trying to communicate with his home planet attempting to create communications devices, whilst his mother seems to be dying. To further study humans, he calls himself a photographer and goes to various parties with artists (which the conspiracists call ‘The Hoard’, a group who have migrated to the suburbs after the epidemic) to learn more about people, sharing a psychedelic machine with them that seems to bends their minds and possibly gather information about them. Rudolph ends up being told by a fellow alien that the home-planet have forgotten them and in order to be free, he will need to let go of the past.

Really unusual movie. A lot of it was shot in this handheld home camcorder style, which made it feel like Rudolph was genuinely taking a report of humans back to his planet. In the Q&A, the director said that much of the scenes where Rudolph is at the party doing this, he was instructed to interact with people who were just being themselves, not acting. That natural side really comes through, I thought.

Also I enjoyed that the film was ambiguous. It could have simultaneously been pitched as a story that Rudolph was not an alien, that in fact he was sinking into madness, because it was quite unclear for a long time if his so-called mother was an alien or if she was dead and he had killed her. Occasionally she would make noises but as a viewer, I supposed that those noises could well have been a ‘death rattle’ which are the sounds a dead body makes when certain gases are expelling from the body as it decomposes (I saw that once in a TV show). So I spent much of the film questioning who Rudolph really was and if he was being sincere. To be honest, seeing the mother go through various stages of decomposing made me feel quite uncomfortable, like it was too real. Particularly as for most of the film I felt like she had been murdered. I guess I wasn’t really anticipating seeing that from the synopsis, this implied violence towards a woman. I think if I had been mentally prepared for seeing that, maybe it would not have made me feel so uneasy. It’s funny, because I watch a lot of true crime, but I’ve never seen a body as graphically decomposing as in this film, and it really bothered me.

All in all, very interesting dark film. Well acted. Really great trippy visual effects, particularly in the scenes where Rudolph is showing people his mind-altering machine. I can see the influences in there by The Man Who Fell To Earth. I thought there was quite a lot going on, between the epidemic and conspiracies and this so-called alien, but it didn’t feel like it was cramped with too many complicated storylines. Great ending. I enjoyed it. Check it out.

You can watch this film here. You will need to buy a film or festival pass to watch it though.

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Sci-Fi London 2020

SOPHFIFEST’s December 2020 WATCHERS club has been pushed back one week, but for a very good reason!


SCI-FI-LONDON 2020 is happening 8-13 December and due to COVID it’s going to be virtual this year. Cannot wait. Also, tickets are super cheap at £20.20 for the whole festival, or £5 per film if you only want to watch the odd film.

I’m particularly excited about the feature films (synopses below):

  • Live (08/12) – a dystopian story where humans aren’t allowed to be in contact with one another, which given our current COVID/lockdown situation seems very on the nose.
  • Mirror Human (09/12) – this film follows the lives of three characters and explores androids. The synopsis is quite elusive so I guess I will watch and find out!
  • Cosmic Candy (09/12) – a film about a hallucinogenic candy which looks really vibrant and trippy and full of action.
  • Minor Premise (10/12) – this film is about scientific experimentation gone wrong. Ethan finds himself fragmented into different timelines after trying to finish his father’s invention and has to rely on partner/colleague Dr Alli Fisher to find the answers. I’m excited to see how this thriller unfolds.
  • A report on the party and the guests (11/12) – this is a film about a creature on a secret mission but is also about a pandemic and humanity destroying itself.
  • I am human (11/12) – this film is about cyborgs living as part of humanity and explores the human brain and what makes us human.
  • The American Astronaut (11/12) – on my current watchlist. This is one of the top 100 science fiction films of all time, so I’m excited to finally see this.
  • Truth or Consequences (12/12) – the film is set in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico (yes, this is a real place!!) and explores the concept of humans colonising new planets but what if you were left behind. I’m really interested in this idea, the further we advance into space exploration and I’m looking forward to this offering.
  • Skyman (12/12) – this film follows Carl who believes he will be the victim of repeat alien abduction. Is he right? Let’s find out! It’s also co-directed by Daniel Myrick of The Blair Witch Project! Woah!
  • I am Ren (13/13) – this film is a thriller about Artificial Intelligence and follows Renata trying to find answers to a mysterious event.

There are also 30+ short films this year to explore. Check them out here.

I’m really excited to see so much diversity in this year’s offering. This is the direction that science fiction film needs to be moving into. More women, more BIPOC/POC, more LGBTQ, more disabled, more neuro-diverse creators and actors. Representation FTW!

Get your pass soon: https://sci-fi-london.com/ SOPHFIFEST will be chatting about films seen on this site and normal social networks so check those out coming soon 🙂 ONE MORE WEEK! ONE MORE WEEK! ONE MORE WEEK!

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Flight of the Navigator [1986]

“I’m sorry, but I don’t belong here now. I love you.”


Thanks to Sam for hosting a great watchparty on Plex and letting me see this long-forgotten gem.

This film follows 12 year old David, played by Joey Cramer. David wakes up after falling in a ravine in the woods and finds out that he has been gone for 8 years and has no memory of what happened! At the same time a mysterious space ship arrives, and NASA are fumbling to find answers.

There’s really not much to say about this. On second watching, this film was a really fun watch.

It has dated quite a bit and there are some scenes which, if the film was made now would be totally inappropriate e.g. Carolyn the adult intern flirting with David, but I didn’t think any of it took away from the film.

The CGI (for its time) and look of the inner ship was so so so good. The ship looked a bit like a clam shell but was pretty believable. The soundtrack was excellent and catchy in an electro-80s sort of way. There wasn’t really much to the story; it wasn’t complicated at all but the simplicity made it fun to watch. It felt like such a fun adventure, and at times was really moving and heartfelt. I loved the relationship between David and his brother who were incredibly sweet. I remember when I watched it as a child, it felt like a naughty adventure to be on, defying the adults and NASA’s orders in the way David did. To be honest, NASA seemed totally incompetent like they had no idea what was going on throughout, even less than David did, which was pretty amusing and David’s instincts felt spot on. The film really has it all… time travel, aliens, space, mind transfer, technology, robotics… what more could you ask for? Oh and lastly the little puppet alien monsters in it look like they came straight out of a Jim Henson playbook so were gnarly but also super cute!

This is a must-watch film and I LOVE IT. It’s dated but utterly charming. I would recommend it a million times over. Don’t expect too much of it, but it’s just really fun and a completely underrated film.

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