Despite a relatively clichéd, dystopian setting, Defective does a remarkably great job of establishing its world as something distinctive and to which it’s worth paying attention. The early scenes spent setting up its universe and how it works are, by far, the strongest part of the film.
The film portrays the final stages of an oppressive new world order being established. We follow an estranged brother (Colin Paradine) and sister (Raven Cousens) in what essentially amounts to a simple cat and mouse chase as they attempt to escape the wrath of their militant police state.
The film clearly has a low budget, but that largely works in its favour. Many considerably most expensive films have explored similar territory and, whilst there’s absolutely a place for the dreamlike qualities of Blade Runner and the satirical, heightened reality of RoboCop, there’s something surprisingly powerful about the rough, raw realism that comes with capturing an absolutely fantastic-looking cyborg-soldier costume on relatively low-budget footage.
The film’s props and costumes are brilliant and seeing them shot like this grounds them in a way that higher-end projects simply aren’t able to. Expensive films generally look inherently more expensive and, thus, further removed from reality.
That said, another of Defective’s major strengths is the remarkable job it does at making something more than the sum of its parts out of its cinematography. It may superficially be very matter-of-fact, but it’s also consistently energetic, inventive and highly engaging.
Unfortunately, whilst the bare bones of the story are relatively well-told through surprisingly solid performances, at 101 minutes, the film manages to considerably outstay its welcome. A sleek 85-minute cut might have managed to zip along, getting in and out before you have a chance to tire of it, but in its current form, there are countless dull sequences where the characters stop to have extended conversations that ultimately add very little to the proceedings and frequently feel like they’re repeating the same material.
Given the current political climate, it’s a very timely film and the grounded camerawork combined with some impressive practical effects work that make it hit home all the harder. It’s a shame, then, that it runs out of steam in the middle and once you finally get to the ending, it’s completely lacking and underwhelming.
Whilst it’s difficult to see Defective being very fondly remembered or even developing much of a cult following, it’s very easy to imagine it becoming an interesting early relic in the filmographies of those who made it. The direction (courtesy of Reese Eveneshen) and cinematography (by Isaac Elliott-Fisher suggest a great deal of talent behind the camera and it’s a safe bet that those involved will go on to much bigger and better things.
DEFECTIVE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: REESE EVENESHEN / STARRING: COLIN PARADINE, RAVEN COUSENS, ASHLEY ARMSTRONG, DENNIS ANDRES / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 13TH (US)