‘The Beyond’ is a 2017 film by Hasraf Dullul released on Netflix in August 2018. Set in the near future the films story is told via a documentary style which follows a talking heads format to explain what is happening.
The story involves the appearance of a strange void in orbit which begins to eject large balls of dark matter into the atmosphere. The main players are members of the Space Agency which acts as a narrative proxy for NASA, scientists and top secret black ops researchers. The documentary style is one that is increasingly used in science fiction, its keeps budget low and its number of actors to a manageable number. Often this results in a slow pace to the film and The Beyond is no exception however, this film is not aiming to be an action packed romp but more cerebral. How would we react in a first contact situation, would we even recognise one if we saw it?
We do not get to see the characters outside of the interviewer’s frame of reference and whilst this limits development it does convey a sense of reality to the proceedings. We get to see the decisions being made and some of the inner monologues reiterated for the camera.
The premise is a deeply interesting one and the approach taken felt realistic, none of the fantastical leaps of many sci-fi alien movies that is until the manned mission is planned and Human 2.0’s are introduced. This was a step too far, the film is apparently set in 2019 or the very near future at the least and we are nowhere near the level of bioengineering such a project would have entailed. The alien intelligence was an interesting construct, not your average low-budget alien but again their appearance failed to answer some deep scientific questions, such as their non-corporality, I struggled to understand how their frame of reference interfaced with ours in a way that would mean our two species could have any meaningful communication.
The final problem I had with the film was the end resolution, I loved the moral implication that we always assume aliens will be hostile but I felt that the complete destruction of the solar system except Earth may have had more of an impact on the Earths system, such as tides and orbital patterns.
Looking back at the review it may seem that I have been rather picky regarding some of the details after all there are many films out there with far less realistic outcomes, the fact is though this film bills itself as a scientific relevant film and so I only feel its right to call them out on a few points.
I enjoyed the film and the concepts within it. It is always rewarding to find a film with a scientific core. Hasraf Dullul does a lot with a small budget and the areas where the budget falls down, some of the exterior shots and the military definitely look like extras, is made up for with story, concept and graphics, which whilst not top of the line more than do the job.
Stories in this genre will always be compared to Carl Sagans – Contact and this is definitely less than that work but an enjoyable film well worth a look, if only for the concept, moral decision making feats of engineering.
Into the Nebula Score – 7/10