Movie Sleuth Exclusives: The Beyond (2017) Reviewed

Last year at the Atlanta Sci Fi Film Festival, we were privy to seeing an indie short called Project Kronos. In September 2017 at the second annual film fest, we were given exclusive access to Hasraf 'HaZ' Dulull's extension of the movie, a brand new feature length called The Beyond. With a massive resume that includes visual effects work on The Dark Knight, Hellboy II, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, HaZ takes his years of experience to create a film that properly amalgamates a strong narrative that relies on a mockumentary style injected with a dramatic story line. 

Extrapolating on some of the hard science fiction elements of his previous work, this new entry blends cybernetic organisms, a potential world ending worm hole, dimensional travel, and black orbs that definitely call back to Denis Villeneuve's Arrival. With a much bigger budget and an incoming release by the eclectic Gravitas Ventures, HaZ's new take on science fiction is a breath of fresh air that blends a documentary news style with great looking visuals and a story that questions how far we might push humanity to the edge when faced with incoming expected doom. Using believable actors that lend realistic performances to their roles as members of the scientific community, Dulull's work as a director is highlighted by the skilled delivery of his entire cast. Many of the people from his short film return but as different characters here. 

As a first time full length from a nearly freshman director, The Beyond is a visual spectacle of imagination and fluid plot lines that are only hampered by a few too many ideas being thrown at the screen at once. Like so many other movies that paint humans as destructive beings that automatically assume the worst from first contact with an outside force or entity, his work here captures many constant tropes we've seen before. Ultimately he gives his audience a gem in the rough that out delivers many current genre films. Astute design on his robotic beings blended with some fascinating environmental effects work definitely pushes the boundaries of a film that isn't bogged down by massive money and a huge studio calling for total control. At the core, The Beyond has a synthetic beating heart that many fans will latch onto for many reasons. Yet, some might dismiss how closely some of it relates to Arrival. Personally, I didn't mind the similarities. 

Call me Robocop again and we'll see who's still walking tomorrow.

Great science fiction pushes the envelope and often times blends themes of possible futures with transhumanism that may call our own existence into question. The Beyond takes some risks that many filmmakers may not feel comfortable transposing to the screen. Some scenes are downright creepy as main characters are changed into soulless beings meant to fight for our survival. However, selfless sacrifice for the good of mankind is a huge part of his message here and it abundantly works. 

Considering my love for most things sci-fi, it would be hard for me not to suggest The Beyond. This is a movie that many directors could only wish to make. With a plot that's huge in scope and a cool new vision for a fictional world, Dulull's dedication to getting this made definitely shows. To his credit, The Beyond is a beacon of hope in the cinematic realm of modern science fiction.