By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 28, 2017
The 2015 science fiction suspense movie Infini borrows plenty of concepts from superior movies, among them Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Solaris and Aliens. But although this independent film is obscure, having been made in Australia on a minuscule budget, it’s executed well enough to make it worthwhile viewing for science-fiction aficionados.
Most of the movie takes place on an abandoned mining base on Infini, the farthest-flung outpost in the galaxy. A few hundred years into the future, when members of Infini’s skeleton crew go insane and program a deadly cargo to be sent to Earth, troops are teleported (“slipstreamed,” in the movie’s parlance) to the location to shut down the shipment. But the first wave of responders quickly go insane, and an elite search-and-rescue team led by Capt. Seet Johanson (Kevin Copeland) is summoned to clean up the fiasco.
The group encounters the only known survivor of the disaster, a security specialist named Whit Carmichael. The frazzled Carmichael (Daniel MacPherson) claims that he shut down the base’s heating system during the carnage, thereby leaving most of it in a deep freeze as crazed personnel slaughtered one another. He agrees to help his would-be rescuers disable the cargo transport, but during the process many of the team members are exposed to the same toxic biological material that plunged earlier visitors into madness.
The rest of the story consists of Carmichael’s increasingly frantic efforts to evade the armed psychotics who are hunting him (and each other) while counting down the hours until he can teleport back to Earth.
Technically, the movie is flawless; despite having a budget estimated by IMDb at $800,000, the sets, costumes and special effects are as nearly convincing as anything to be found in a big-budget Hollywood feature. (Admittedly, there’s nothing quite as flashy as you’d find in a typical Hollywood movie.) The cast is a little uneven, but MacPherson and most of the other leads project an admirable intensity.
Unfortunately, the script suffers from a few flaws. For one thing, the characters’ motivations are often unclear, even given the understanding that they’re experiencing extreme mental duress. For another, the members of the rescue team are largely anonymous; I never grasped exactly how many there were, and even when the cast got out of their spacesuits, it was often very difficult in any given scene to figure out which man was which. Moreover, a few lines of dialogue come off as clichéd.
In addition, the script — written by director Shane Abbess with story contributions from producer/composer Brian Cachia — seems a little too derivative. Coincidentally or otherwise, Infini calls to mind a bunch of other, better-known and often better films; besides the ones mentioned above, parts of it strongly echo the 1997 horror film Event Horizon.
On the other hand, the universe the filmmakers create is both intricate and interesting. Although some of the early exposition is a bit dense, Infini generates a real sense of urgency and fear as the search-and-rescue team prepares to embark on its mission.
As previously stated, Infini isn’t for every viewer. There are a few gory images, and the material is strictly of interest to genre fans. But the filmmakers clearly know what they’re doing, and it will be interesting to see where their careers take them.