The machines have taken over. Humanity has finally been subjugated by AI and giant tripod-like machines armed with death rays stalk the land. In Scandanavia Tomasz (Stefan Ebel), a wounded and traumatised deserter from the war against the machines, seeks solace in an abandoned house out in the middle of nowhere, sets up a perimeter forcefield to protect himself from unwanted attention and spends his time getting high on a strange blue narcotic. But when one of his forcefield generators goes on the blink, his quiet life is compromised by the arrival of Lilja (Siri Nase) who knocks him out and ties him up. It’s clear that Lilja isn’t quite ready to roll over and accept domination by machine and in time the two must learn to work together despite their very different agendas as their common enemy closes in…
Written and directed by Daniel Raboldt, A New World Order belies its Kickstarter origins – it’s pleasingly big and spectacular in places – even if it can’t quite shake off the influence of numerous genre forebears. The scenario – stalking aggressors which hunt by sound – obviously evokes the Quiet Place films (although A New World Order goes further as it’s pretty much entirely dialogue-free) and there are obviously blatant parallels to various versions of War of the Worlds and even the BBC’s failed 1980s drama The Tripods which was apparently a major influence in the look and design of the machine-creatures. But where we might have expected one of those shamefully low-budget efforts that punch way above their weight, suggesting spectacle and drama far out of their creative reach, A New World Order often delivers on the promise of its concept. The focus is, of course on the relationship between the two characters and both performers manage, despite the fact that they have to communicate via actions and gestures rather than dialogue, to bring light and shade to their characters with only the occasional lapse into over-enthusiastic mugging and arm-waving.
There’s an almost primeval sense of creeping dread in any fiction that sets itself in an isolated location such as a crackling and exposed woodland area and A New World Order deftly exploits the cold remoteness of its setting, delivering a real sense of a world under threat without ever needing to show or even suggest chaotic scenes of widespread devastation and carnage. The machines are a constant subtle presence, either looming on the horizon or planting giant metal feet into the ground as the machines lurch across the countryside (scenes which particularly recall TV’s Tripods). The effects are startlingly good for the available budget and the film reaches its genuinely spectacular, large-scale finale, the sky alive with mechanical bee-like drones and the ground crawling with advancing tripod-like machines.
A New World Order is a very pleasant surprise. The human drama is generally tense and compelling and the visuals are several cuts above what we might expect from low budget filmmaking; it would be a genuine shame if audiences avoid this one having been caught out in the past by straight-to-DVD/streaming sci-fi clunkers whose promotional images offer a level of action and spectacle they never come close to providing. Despite the derivative nature of its story, A New World Order is a real treat and we’re keen to see what Raboldt can do with some fresher and more original ideas and a proper studio budget.
A NEW WORLD ORDER is out now on DVD and VOD