Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Rift: Dark Side of the Moon

Rather refreshingly, this film presents a different kind of moon landing conspiracy theory. We went up there and back, sure enough. NASA just tacked on a few extra Apollo missions they never told us about. It turns out, one of those missions was unusually significant in a supernaturally cosmic kind of way. Years later, a Serbian-American CIA agent will investigate the consequences in Dejan Zecevic’s The Rift: Dark Side of the Moon (trailer here), which releases today on VOD.

Liz Waid was a hacker who “volunteered” to serve her country after getting caught, but she has been on inactive bereavement leave for several months after the death of her son. Nobody is really eager to reactivate her for this mission, but she will be working with veteran lone wolf John Francis Smith (his real name), who always gets the job done.

Supposedly, they are recovering a fallen satellite, but the presence of Dysart, a terminally ill astronaut does not make sense for such a routine mission. They are not thrilled to have Darko, a Serbian military liaison also tagging along, but those are the rules. Of course, all their assumptions go out the window when the satellite they thought they were tracking turns out to be someone or something wearing the spacesuit of a fellow astronaut who disappeared during Dysart’s fateful mission.

The English-language Rift has been billed as Serbia’s first science fiction film, but it could easily crossover into horror sections. For instance, there are zombies, but they are definitely dead-who-rise, in the Book of Revelations tradition. Regardless, people just do not seem to stay dead in this remote corner of Eastern Serbia. It also subtly recalls hints of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist, which referenced astronauts in space and was set in the same world as The Ninth Configuration. Of course, that rift in the space-time continuum is pure sf (whereas the spooky isolated farmhouse setting takes us back to horror).

Rift is messy and eccentric, but its ambition is impressive. It also has a serious ace-in-the-hole in its star and co-producer Ken Foree, whose very presence makes it of interest to horror fans. It is thoroughly entertaining to watch him do his hardnosed thing—and he looks like he has hardly aged a day since Brian Yuzna’s The Dentist. For extra added nostalgia, Monte Markham plays Dysart, investing him with tragic dignity. As Waid, Katarina Cas holds her own with the genre veterans, while Dragan Micanovic gives expendable Darko more energy and dimension than you would expect. Plus, Mick Garris appears briefly as Waid’s editor for her journalist cover-gig.

The conclusion of Rift doesn’t make a lick of sense whatsoever, but that is how it goes with genre cinema. The soundtrack also sounds like a transparent attempt to copy the vibe of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side album. Yet, Rift is still weirdly compelling. Despite its rough edges, it is exactly the kind of film experienced cult film patrons will want to revisit over time. Recommended for Foree fans and those who appreciate offbeat category straddlers, Rift: The Dark Side of the Moon is now available on VOD platforms.