It’s the future and we’re in space where, remember, no one can hear you scream. All bets are off when it comes to yawning though. This dreary, talky, yarn boasts a few decent ideas here and there but the script does nothing interesting with them, populating what passes for its story with dull, faceless, entirely disposable characters (most of them so disposable we don’t even miss them when they’re picked off one by one), who spend most of their time trudging across the surface of the moon in ludicrous boxy spacesuits (actually made of cardboard!) discussing theology and eschatology. Get us on the next shuttle out of here!
Apparently Shockwave, Darkside (the title refers to a bunch of astronauts stranded on the dark side of the moon, when their ship is shot down) has been a labour of love production for writer/director Jay Weisman for several years; we can only suggest that his affections might have been better expended on something a little more worthy than this stodgy, derivative and rather hectoring and woefully-underfunded sci-fi parable. The film’s backstory is actually a damned sight more interesting than what’s made its way to the screen. A massive religious war on Earth has resulted in all ‘believers’ being exiled to the moon, where they were expected to quietly die out. But unexpected supplies of water have kept the exiles alive and when a nano-plague back on Earth poisons the home-world’s water supply, the non-religious ‘Unlight’ have started a new war and have focussed their attentions on the exiles’ lunar ice-mining operations. It’s this scenario which sees our heroes – as random a bunch of sci-fi cyphers as you could wish not to spend time with – brought down and stranded behind enemy lines, with their oxygen supply rapidly dwindling.
Problems; so many problems. It’s actually frustrating that Weisman, having created a potentially-interesting future-world scenario (not exactly torn screaming from today’s headlines but certainly relatable to modern world concerns), had absolutely no idea what to do with it next or how to tell an engaging story set in that future-world. The characters – such as they are – are utterly forgettable and, once they’re locked inside their absurd spacesuits, completely indistinguishable – and no amount of on-screen computer read-outs telling us their names, their life-stories and their religious persuasions is going to serve to fill in the blanks in any meaningful manner. And blanks are absolutely what these no-hopers are (you’ll note the presence of The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green in the cast and, like us, you’ll wonder why); when they start to disappear you’ll most likely not even notice, much less care. To give the film some credit, there’s a decent twist which makes sticking with it just about worthwhile but, in the final analysis, Shockwave, Darkside amounts to little more than a handful of boring people walking and talking across a quarry, punctuated by pre-1980s computer games visual effects and po-faced performances from a cast, who must surely have been only marginally less bored making the film, than the unfortunate audience forced to endure it. Shocking.
SHOCKWAVE, DARKSIDE / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: JAY WEISMAN / STARRING: BILL SAGE, MEI MELANCON, SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN, RICH CERAULO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VOD); UK DVD RELEASE: TBA