Lionsgate // 2007 // 75 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 22nd, 2008
The objects of death.
The latest from the Lionsgate horror machine is an intriguing psychological mind-screw that may not be what you expect.
Kate (Mary Stockley) is horrified to discover that her friends are being systematically murdered. Even worse -- and weirder -- the perpetrators are apparently their doppelgangers, who show up to an odd ticking sound and almost immediately apply lethal force to their prey. Who are these people? And is anything what it seems?
The answers: a) Who knows and b) Nope!
I'm torn about this one. Artifacts is a well-crafted, well-acted, cerebral thriller. It's also vague, slow, and pretentious. How does that shake out in regards to the final call? I'm going with a "not recommended." In the end, you're looking at an effort that confuses more than it entertains.
Plus, I was startled by some glaring similarities to Dark City. The following isn't a spoiler because, frankly, the reveals in this film are so unrevealing, there is very little I could blow about the plot. Anyway, as we approach the finale, when Kate sits down with a stranger (who's just chock full o' exposition) and we learn about as much as we can about the artifacts, the guy talks about discovering "What makes us human? What makes us unique?" That's pretty close to verbatim line readings from Dark City, isn't it? I only bring it up because I was agitated by the way the film played its cards so close to its chest. I wanted to know more about the story, the characters, and those damned artifacts.
But that wasn't to be. Giles Daoust and Emmanuel Jespers, the writers/producers/directors of Artifacts, take a different route and while they have the chops to create a good looking film, the finished product is too opaque. Hey, maybe I'm just irked about not getting the entire story. There's something to be said for a movie that leaves you wanting more, but forget more -- I'll even take a little.
Kudos to the actors, however, all of whom were pros and easily represent the strongest aspect of the production. Stockley is intense and her counterpart, Felix Scott, brings the appropriate "doubting-character-that-eventually-comes-around-when-his-double-tries-to-blow-him-up" feel to the picture.
One more thing: I have no idea what the cover art has to with what's actually contained on the disc. Whatever Artifacts is, it's not a horror film.
A solid technical presentation (1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and 5.1 Dolby Digital) are joined by a very, very good making-of documentary that chronicled its "guerilla" filmmaking.
I know this is a short review, but there's not much happening here. The movie is well acted and looks great, but the story is unsatisfying.
I really wish I could have said "dig it."
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R