March 6, 2019 Starfish (Movie Review)
What if a mixtape could save the world? In the instance of the brand-new Cosmic Horror offering Starfish, a series of cassette tapes (remember those?) might just hold the key to saving our world as we know it.
Presented by Yellow Veil Pictures and The Orchard, the film will actually take to the road for a theatrical tour that begins on Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Brooklyn, New York, and then winds its way across the country, with its last showings occurring on April 19th in both Austin, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. For a full list of dates and participating theaters, please see below. However, if you’re unable to attend a theatrical showing, fear not! Starfish arrives to digital and VOD on Tuesday, May 28th. Mark those calendars!
In the film, life is not exactly going well for Aubrey (Virginia Gardner: Project Almanac 2015, Halloween 2018), and it seems that a mysterious signal has just summoned the end of days. She awakens in the apartment of her deceased best friend, Grace (Christina Masterson: Power Rangers Megaforce series, Toxic Shark 2017), to black smoke raging in the distance, no electric, no phones, and a snow-covered town that seems to be entirely devoid of life. To add to her troubles, she soon encounters a grotesque creature, like something out of a horrific nightmare, roaming through the blood-splattered snow.
With the help of a walkie-talkie, a tiny turtle named Bellini, and a series of mixtapes left behind by her bestie, Aubrey must fight to overcome her past and stay invested in the present in order to unravel the mystery left behind by Grace and save humanity.
Clocking in at 100 minutes, Starfish was written and directed by award-winning Filmmaker and Musician A.T. White (Beneath short 2011, Another Year short 2016), and it is a feature-length debut for this exceptionally talented creator who is also a member of the popular UK band Ghostlight. It also features the acting talents of Natalie Mitchell (Grand Theft Auto V video game 2013, Vampire Dad 2018), Eric Beecroft (Peachy Keen short 2010, A Lady & A Robot short 2014), Tanroh Ishida (The Railway Man 2013,47 Ronin 2013), and more.
So, what is Cosmic Horror? Well, in the instance of Starfish, it’s an intergalactic blend of Sci-Fi with elements of Drama, Horror, and the Thriller. In less generic terms, it’s a unique amalgamation of elements of 2017’s 13 Reasons Why, 2018’s I Think We’re Alone Now, and Stephen King’s The Mist. One that includes some disturbing creatures and a bizarre segment of anime, all in the name of the end of days.
There’s a great visual appeal in Starfish, which is much in thanks to the cinematography of Alberto Bañares (72% short 2017, Ophelia short 2018). With artistic flourishes throughout, the film is wonderfully done and intelligently avant-garde, which visually mimics its unique script. If you came for the creatures, well, the bulk of them are suitably disturbing thanks to some phenomenal CGI, though there is one beast that is awe-inspiring in its enormity — like an extraterrestrial dinosaur.
Yes, this is an apocalyptic tale at its simplest level, but there’s much, much more at the heart of Starfish and it’s all presented with a wonderful attention to details. This includes the film’s soundtrack, which definitely recognizes that music has the power to transport us anywhere in the world, at any time. Chock-full of Indie Rock and composed by Director White, it features the likes of Sigur Rós, Sparklehorse, Why?, and more.
As far as actors go, the film is largely a one-woman show, so it would be very difficult to ignore Gardner’s exceptional performance throughout. As Aubrey, she is often left to wander an apocalyptic landscape dressed in a massive wolf coat, complete with wolf head bearing ferocious teeth, with a cassette player strapped around her neck as she muses to herself or Grace’s tiny turtle Bellini. As the dialogue throughout Starfish is somewhat minimal, Gardner effectively portrays an entire story with her body language. Not an obvious choice for a heroine, Aubrey is haunted by her inability to forgive herself and forget her past mistakes. In fact, her travails in the snow are largely a metaphor for her personal struggles, making the core of Starfish more about the mistakes we make in life that may seem like the end of the world even when they are not.
For this reason, it’s likely that no two viewers will share the exact same analysis of Starfish. For some, this will be a Science Fiction tale of the end of the world sugar-coated in conspiracy theories and inter-dimensional travel, while, for others, it will encompass the story of a young woman learning to forgive and forget her personal mistakes. A tale of forgiveness, love, and the apocalypse, Starfish places a metaphorical spin on the end of the world and does so with a gorgeous finesse. A phenomenal feature debut for Director White and his entire crew, Cryptic Rock give Starfish 4.5 of 5 stars.