Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Philip K. Dick ’18: Sound from the Deep (short)

It is like At the Mountains of Madness for the era of climate change. H.P. Lovecraft is indeed the loving and sinister inspiration for this tale of primeval arctic horror, but it has an international flavor the scribe from Providence would have had a hard time relating to. The Arctic Ocean is a cold, dark place that was better shunned by mankind in Antti Laakso & Joonas Allonen’s short film, Sound from the Deep (trailer here), which screens during the 2018 Philip K.Dick Film Festival.

Mikael Aalto is a Finnish grad student, who joined a joint Scandinavia-Russian petroleum prospecting vessel as a research fellow, under the tutelage of his mentor, Prof. Norberg. Their mission was to search for oil and natural gas deposits in the regions of the ocean recently opened to navigation due to polar melting. Unfortunately, they have nothing to show for their efforts until Aalto picks up a strange noise on his instruments. Norberg convinces the captain to take a detour to investigate, arguing it must be a large pocket of natural gas. However, Aalto and Sofia, the Russian sonar specialist, are not so sure.

At a tight and tense twenty-nine minutes, Sound might just be the purest and most effective Lovecraft homage yet. It is also massively impressive from a simple logistical perspective. Laakso and Allonen have a legit looking Arctic cutter that they put through some very stormy seas. They have scenes that are more cinematic than anything in The Perfect Storm. Yes, there is also something Elder God-ish, but they vary it slightly from strict Lovecraftian mythos.

Sound is so impeccably Lovecraftian, it starts with Aalto telling his cautionary story, mindful that his listener most likely assumes he is mad. Ojala Eero is perfect as the accursed survivor, cover the spectrum from an awkwardly cerebral rational positivist to the profoundly shaken doomsayer. Nastasia Trizna is also scary convincing portraying Sofia’s mental deterioration.

Thanks to Ville Muurinen’s sweeping cinematography, Sound is one of the rare short films that truly deserves to be seen on a big screen. The creature effects are also terrific. Anyone who appreciates ambitious genre filmmaking will be fired up by what Laakso & Allonen have to offer, but Lovecraft fans will absolutely flip for it. Very highly recommended, Sound from the Deep screens this Saturday (2/24) as part Block Four: International Sci-Fi Shorts 2, at this year’s Philip K. Dick Film Festival.