This is the first feature from director Joh Zhao. A mysterious illness is striking inhabitants of an American City, and nobody know why. When his girlfriend, Shelley (Jennie Epland) is close to death, Mitch (Kyle Walters) behind to desperately search for a rumoured cure. This search takes him into the dark underground of the City, where he meets Trixie (Julia Max) and her drug-dependent family.
The film is, strikingly, shot using various different formats. This is cleverly used to illustrate the differing mental states of the characters. Zhao shows great skill with this – some of the film is really incredibly beautiful (Although this doesn’t come across so well in the trailer below. It must need a big screen for the full effect). Colour, light and movement are also used extremely well, helping to build mood. The only shots in bright light are when Mitch is at work (a pharmacy), and even then we only see this section of the world as a series of stills.
Additionally, the music has a massive impact. Some of it beautiful violin, guitar or piano, and some of it more complex soundscapes. It all creates an all-encompasing world and heightens the drama and the experiences of the characters.
The only thing that lets the film down is that, other than Mitch and Trixie, the characters feel a little two-dimensional.
Overall, however, I found the film to be intense, intriguing and a stunning debut from all involved.