Friday, 30 January 2015

It's a Strange Thing....


Never has wearing a Star Trek bathrobe looked so intriguing and dangerous - and there's not even a red one in sight.

From the minds of Alrik and Beth Bursell comes Strange Thing, an independent production that has done particularly well in the last year or so.



Running at just under ten minutes, Strange Thing follows the events in one moment of a Star Trek.
couple's lives when a mysterious door appears in their apartment. But the big thing here is that producer and writer team of Beth and Alrik are huge fans of


Explained Alrik who was one of the leading people in this 100% independent production; "So I grew up with Star Trek like so many other people of my generation, watching The Next Generation with my parents right before I went to bed and so on.

"When I met my wife one of the first things I noticed in her apartment were her Uhura and Dr.McCoy action figures. On our second date she asked me if I wanted to go to the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in four months and lo and behold we did, dressed in our star fleet uniforms, me as Riker and her as Nurse Chapel. She has always been a bigger Original Series fan and I'm The Next Generation all the way but we still enjoy both the series together. 

In the initial set-up scenes we get to see the couple going about their evening activities, watching a movie and heading off to bed. There's some great, natural dialogue between the couple attired in their Star Trek robes drinking a morning beverage from their Star Trek mugs.

"Before we made Strange Thing we would wear the Star Trek robes featured in the movie every day." said Alrik.  "When we came up with the idea to make a movie about a doorway appearing in a couple's living room, I thought it was very important to have the lead character based off on my wife because she would totally want to open the door. Originally the husband was also going to be a big nerd but we decided to layer in hints of him being less into Star Trek, to create more conflict and give him a reason to resist opening the door."

That hint is there in his apparent reluctance to previously to wear the command bathrobe but the connection to the franchise doesn't stop there. On screen you'll spot a Borg mug or a glanced Spock action figure but the real inspiration comes from something a lot more familiar and certainly a lot more dangerous (in the Star Trek universe) than ceramics or plastic! 

"Once we had the beginning of the short worked out, I quickly decided that I wanted to base the monster off of the creature from The Next Generation episode, Skin of Evil in which Tasha Yar dies. That was important episode for me as a kid and re-watching it as an adult I came to enjoy it even more."

The mysterious door seems to be a gateway to another, rather foresty location/universe/dimension where our female protagionist confronts a familiar looking entity. It's not a terrifying short film but the acting, the buildup and the great gloopy ending are wonderfully paced and shot from start to finish. I suspect that the sci-fi/fantasy edge will appeal to Star Trek fans as well as general genre followers but it's as much about the relationship as it is about the CGI creation which viewers will be anticipating.

"Once we shot the film we went to the Star Trek Convention in San Francisco to promote the kickstarter and handed out fliers to hundreds of Trekkies (my wife even got one in the hand of Brent Spiner).

Alrik and Beth were married right after they made the movie and had only returned from their honeymoon a couple of days before the convention.

"Taking the film around Film Festivals has been a blast and there is almost always one Star Trek person who can name the episode that inspired the ooze monster. The film plays really well at Sci-Fi festivals but also really well at more broad film festivals where it is the only genre film, just most of the references and memorabilia go over peoples heads!" added Alrik. So far the film has been to 18 festivals in all, including Toronto After Dark and the Morbido International Film Festival

So what was my impression of Strange Thing? Aside from the Star Trek references and influences I was really impressed. It's short, sharp, to the point and a great production all round. The acting of the two leads playing Jake and Kris is wonderfully realistic and I believed their relationship. Having the first piece set up their dynamic played not only to help us get to know them but also just to lull you into a false sense of security before the main event.

The scenario is as far-fetched as they get but that's what makes it all the more interesting to watch and even though I know it's influenced by Skin of Evil I was getting hints of The Thing and The Abyss in there as well. Having so many unanswered questions certainly leaves this open for a (longer?) sequel perhaps but even if that never happens then Alrik and Beth have provided a short which will play havoc with your imagination - heck, I've already run up a feature-length followup in my head.

"Now that I am releasing the film I am hoping it can get out to a wide audience of Trekkies and Non-Trekkies alike. It was a real long process to get the film made and everyone who worked on it dedicated so much blood, sweat and tears into the project, I feel like it's my duty to get it seen by as many people as possible.

I would urge film fans and Star Trek fans to take a look at Strange Thing.  You can take a look right now by following THIS LINK.

If you've watched it, what did you think?

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