CERT: 15 | DIRECTOR: TOM PATON | SCREENPLAY: TOM PATON | STARRING: SAMANTHA SCHNITZLER, ANGELA DIXON, TOBY OSMOND, SOPHIA DEL PIZZO, BENTLEY KALU, KRIS JOHNSON | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VOD)
Thousands of years ago, mankind was ruled by the Elder Gods - a species that came from the far reaches of space. After losing her parents when she was young, Ren Reid (Samantha Schnitzler) works at a facility called The Artemis Black Site, which specialises in catching and deporting the Elder Gods away from Earth, and she is soon thrust into a battle for survival against not only the God who killed her parents but those who worship him.
In the past few years, Director Tom Paton has been pushing the boundaries of independent cinema and has proved that having a low budget does not prevent you from creating captivating and unique genre films. His previous works of Pandorica and Redwood both showed that with expert attention to detail in cinematography and using every last drop of available resources to his advantage, you can create something great- and Black Site is no different.
With Black Site, the first thing that truly stands out is the cinematography. George Burt, who works closely with Paton on all of his projects, creates a stunning throwback to the likes of Escape from New York and other works of John Carpenter - with the retro lightning, darkened narrow corridors and nightmarish visions that Ren has (although they are used a little too much and feel quite repetitive) all add up to create a beautiful looking film. Along with that, the 80s inspired synth score really hammers home exactly the tone that Paton wanted with this film.
But that isn't the only inspiration that Paton took. With the Elder Gods, who in this particular story are primarily seen in human form, they are most certainly plucked straight out of Lovecraftian lore with their grand stature and design which is displayed in Ren's visions. Even though there is a mash-up of things we have all seen before, Paton has managed to create something that still feels unique.
Ren's story is equally compelling - her journey to want to become a soldier stems from her damaged past and she is a strong female character that isn't one for the sake of it. Towards the final act, her pent up aggression and badass fighting skills are on full display. However, Ren is honestly one of the only properly memorable or well fleshed out characters that we are presented with. A lot of the side characters, unfortunately, felt a bit flat with that coming from a combination of lack of backstory and stilted dialogue. But that aside, the overarching story and powerful performance from Schnitzler in the lead role managed to keep the film afloat and a rather gripping and fresh entry in the Sci-Fi genre.
Black Site is more proof that Tom Paton is a true rising Director in British Independent cinema and must be championed for taking inspiration and adding his own flavour. With the way the story ended and the introduction to the Elder God lore, there is every chance that this world and these characters may be revisited in the future which would answer a lot of questions that the audience left with.