Thursday, July 8, 2021

Meander Review: A Phenomenally Done Survival Horror Ordeal

Gaia Weiss	...	Lisa Peter Franzén	Peter Franzén	...	Adam Romane Libert	Romane Libert	...	Nina Frédéric Franchitti	Frédéric Franchitti	...	Adam brûlé Corneliu Dragomirescu	Corneliu Dragomirescu	...	Le père Eva Niewdanski	Eva Niewdanski	...	Lisa adolescente Carl Laforêt	Carl Laforêt	...	'Eux' Henri Benard	Henri Benard	...	'Eux' Fabien Houssaye	Fabien Houssaye	...	'Eux' Olympe Turi	Olympe Turi	...	'Eux'

Release date: July 9, 2021
Running time: 91 minutes
Written and Directed By: Mathieu Turi
Cast: Gaïa Weiss, Peter Franzen, and Romane Libert 

After getting a car ride from an unknown man, Lisa wakes up in a tube. On her arm is strapped a bracelet with a countdown. She quickly understands that every 10 minutes, fire burns an occupied section. She has no choice but to crawl into safe sections to survive. To know why she’s there and how to get out, Lisa will have to face the memories of her dead daughter.

Gregory Chambet	...	co-producer Julien Deris	...	producer David Gauquié	...	producer Eric Gendarme	...	producer Fanny Habigand	...	assistant producer Sandra Karim	...	producer Thomas Lubeau	...	producer Marc Olla	...	line producer Jordan Sarralie	...	associate producer Dimitri Stephanides	...	co-producer
I didn't know what to expect from this film and the opening really throws you for a loop.  I loved how the film started off with a more sinister start, as a horror type abduction movie, and then quickly changes into a survival horror film when Lisa finds herself in this strange, scifi looking rat maze.  And this is where she spends most of the movie, progressing through a series of traps and challenges as she tries to figure out why she is here and what she needs to do to escape.  This feeling of isolation puts a lot on Gaïa Weiss and she definitely rises to the occasion.  She basically has to sell the entire film, showing her pain, frustration, exhaustion, and emotional hurt all on her own.  There are a few people that she meets along her journey, but their appearances are fleeting.  So she is really the one who has to propel the whole endeavor, and she does so perfectly.  She is clever and makes you want to root for her.  That is not to dismiss the other people and things she meets, who all do a great job of setting up this situation, but they are just not on camera that long compared to Weiss.

Meander is just a really well done film.  It has everything going for it because it does it right and doesn't try to do too much.  The film has fantastically done sets that really transport you into this twisted, deadly hamster maze.   This hamster maze has a near future scifi asesthetic, with metal walls and technology to monitor and murder the occupants.  From the strange wrist device, to the wetsuit style outfits, to the deadly corridors and traps, the film has a great near future scifi feel.  It also has some great practical effects and doesn't try to rely too much on CG.  There is some CG use, but it seems like the filmmakers relied more on the practical effects to tell this tale, which really helps with your suspension of disbelief.  And the make up on some of the stranger parts of the maze was spectacularly done.  And all of this is in service of creating a great scifi aesthetic that has enough of a technology element to make you not question why this is all going on.  And that is a good thing because Meander does not tell you much about what is happening, keeping it just mysterious enough that you can just accept what is going on and enjoy the experience.  If it tried to explain everything, you might just question more.  So Meander gives you just enough to understand the situation and the dire consequences without trying to do too much.  \

And the whole journey is a grueling endeavor, but keeps it fresh with new puzzles, new pieces of information, and some final challenges.  Lisa's journey is a rough one to watch, but it keeps evolving throughout the film.  But the film is not simply just a torture film for the main character.  There are some small pieces of her past that we learn about and become important parts of the overall story.  And after all of this is done, the film leaves you with a satisfying but still mysterious ending.  As with the rest of the film, it doesn't try to explain everything but rather leaves it to the viewers to fill in any holes.  But it is a perfect completion to this long ordeal.

Meander is just a superb horror scifi film, with great practical effects and a grueling, mysterious story all driven by Gaïa Weiss's captivating performance.

Watch it.

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Meander is available in theaters, digitally, and on demand on July 9, 2021.  

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