New Sci Fi Releases: Loophole (2018) - Reviewed

Oh cool,” I thought.  “A dystopian sci-fi film!  One of my favorite genres!”  How quickly my misguided excitement turned to utter revulsion.

A gene containing the predisposition for violence has been discovered, and everyone is forced to be tested for it—at which point they are either set free if they do not have it, or taken away if they do.  Once college student Lexi Smith (Chloe Lukasiak)  is tested, we realize there is more to this mandatory testing than meets the eye, and Lexi becomes the target of a manhunt that eventually unfurls into a full-fledged war of good versus evil.  Her blood has revealed that she is the descendant of Judas Iscariot, and she is the key to unleashing an apocalypse upon humanity.

While the plot sounds like it would be an interesting Minority Report meets The Prophecy-esque film, it is actually poorly executed, evangelical tripe that left me praying for it to be over. 

The first offender was indubitably the acting.  The film opens in a post-apocalyptic year 2052, and however gripping that might sound, the second the one-dimensional characters open their mouths, I felt like I was watching a high school play that some ambitious sophomore wrote and directed.  The dialogue amplified the shoddy acting, filled with exhausting exposition and melodramatic lines that are downright laughable.

Oh, hi there! I'm calling for Jesus. Is he home?

On a technical level, this film fails as well.  The audio is jarringly uneven at times.  There are some shots that sound perfectly fine, cut against shots with so much background noise that the dialogue is almost indecipherable.  There are other scenes where two characters are talking where one character sounds loud and clear, while the other sounds quiet and mumbled.  The quality fluctuates so much that it’s difficult to focus on the nonsense they’re actually discussing.

Moreover, the pacing of this film makes its zippy 1 hour and 26 minute running time feel painful to endure.  There is a subplot with a journalist that becomes prominent halfway through the film, and the exposition-heavy scenes involving her linger so much that the film ultimately becomes unbearable, derailing the already exposition-heavy main narrative into a cacophonous mess. 

Even more upsetting are the Christian undertones of the film.  It quickly devolves from a dystopian sci-fi premise to a trite, preachy angel epic devoid of any actual science fiction.  While religious references in films alone are not enough to be problematic, it far surpasses the cusp of acceptability by attempting to catechize the viewer.  There was a drawn-out CG sequence near its midpoint explaining the enduring battle between angels and demons where I started to think I was watching some sort of Bible-centric History Channel show.  As if the undertones weren’t laid on thick enough throughout, the final scene and groan-worthy “epilogue” shown during the credits left no doubt in my mind about filmmaker Jenni Iver’s intent.  I felt personally duped by this Christian propaganda thinly veiled as a sci-fi film.  

Perhaps worst of all is how the film completely stews in its perceived self-importance.  Every piece of the score has the magnitude of an epic battle taking place no matter how mundane the scene, and countless lines uttered have an ill-placed gravitas that made my head shake so much throughout the film that I felt dizzy by its conclusion.  The lack of finesse the filmmaker displays makes the entire work seem more amateurish than all of the bad acting and technical flaws combined.  The film presents itself like an overzealous adaptation of a young adult novel that is trying to take on far too much at once.   

Loophole is an absolute sin to cinema.  It is misleading, tedious, vainglorious rubbish that fails on virtually every level.  Please do yourself a favor and stay far away from this one, especially if you’re expecting genuine science fiction and not the heavy-handed homily that it is.  

--Andrea Riley