Another Hole in the Head 2015: Magnetic
Going into Magnetic, I had no idea that the husband and wife duo Michael J. Epstein and Sophia Cacciola had experience directing music videos, but within the first 10 minutes of this indie sci-fi it’s easy to recognize their background. That’s because Magnetic is essentially a series of music videos that are interrupted by brief scenes of robotic-like dialogue in an attempt to establish its futuristic atmosphere. For instance, our heroine Alice (Allix Mortis) gets into a car, inserts a cassette tape (yes, this is supposed to be the future, but it’s…magnetic) and pulsating ’80s inspired synth music plays as she drives. And drives. And drives. In an effort to fill time while the entire song plays, we see every side of Alice from every angle as she drives to a remote pay phone (yeap, still supposedly in the future). The music is temporarily suspended when the phone rings and a monotoned voice on the other end gives a cryptic message only the character understands. This lasts for less than a minute before she drives off and the music starts back up again.
It’s difficult to make sense of what the film is actually about, but that’s mostly by design. Obscure lines like “initiating electromagnetic brain link” and “solar flare activity within normal parameters” mean very little without explanation. But unfortunately, the directors’ hold useful exposition until the very last scene. This doesn’t result in a rewarding final reveal, it just makes watching everything before it frustrating and incohesive. There’s no question the filmmakers recognize catchy beats, or that they can create a stylish, moody atmosphere. But constructing complex sci-fi ideas into an engaging low-budget thriller may have been a little too ambitious.