New Indie Releases: Lection (2019) - Reviewed

The term “post-apocalyptic” brings a great deal of imagery to mind: snazzy wasteland fashions, bleak-looking desert landscapes, completely badass modes of transportation, the occasional act of cannibalism...the possibilities for creating compelling works that fall into this category are virtually limitless.  From movies like the Mad Max franchise to the Fallout video games, we’ve been blessed with a bevvy of media that do justice to the post-apocalyptic genre, but others just can’t quite seem to get it right, and when they fail, they fail hard.  

The film Lection is one of these unfortunate pieces of media that tries to do something different with the genre, and while there is no contest that it is “different,” it most certainly doesn’t make it good.  In this film of sparse dialogue, we are introduced to a group of surprisingly well-dressed, normal-looking individuals for having endured an apocalypse, who live in a forest, talk like cavemen, and have an obsession with bread (it is, in fact, one of the few words they seem to know how to say).  Despite these folks being a bit backwoodsy, they still hold elections (or “lections,” as they call them), wherein candidates campaign to become the next leader of their small community and uproot the current leader, whom they proceed to crudely murder in order to take their proverbial throne. 

Sure, there’s some social commentary underneath it all, but it’s so poorly done that it is completely lost upon the viewer.  Much of the film is extended shots of people eating (or pumping their fists in the air about) bread, with the occasional prolonged scene of people drinking bottles of post-apocalyptic moonshine thrown in there for good measure.  To complete the trifecta of terribleness, there’s also some cringe-worthy drum circles that make the characters feel less like gritty survivors trying to rebuild society and more like Burning Man rejects.  There’s a bit of exposition through puppets and crayon drawings to appeal to the Sesame Street crowd, but for the most part, the viewer is left mostly clueless, being shown a vast deal of pointless happenings to fill out the 100-minute runtime, with spatterings of heavy-handed scenes that actually drive the loose plot forward.     

Meandering mess aside, Lection has its share of technical issues as well.  The audio quality is inconsistent:  the dialogue sounds muffled, seemingly recorded on-set with low quality equipment, but the soundtrack is crisp, drawing attention to this poorly recorded dialogue.  There is a blue cast that overpowers many of the scenes in some amateurish attempt at a color treatment, but rather than setting a mood, it feels out of place.  Problems like these are indicative of the biggest issue of this film as a whole:  the creators clearly had high aspirations for this film, but they do not have the skills to execute any of it effectively.

With its decision to use minimal dialogue, Lection is somewhat of a daring film.  Unfortunately for all those involved, they gambled and lost.  It fails on all counts, and worse yet, feels self-important about it.  It is a “high-concept,” low-execution film, which is an especially poisonous combo.  If you want a post-apocalyptic film with minimal dialogue and poignant social commentary, go watch Fury Road again and save yourself from this drivel.

--Andrea Riley