Eden Log – movie review

 
From the primordial ooze, lumps of mud coalesce to form the rough outline of a humanoid shape. In the darkness, your eyes adjust to realise that there is indeed a man, naked as Adam, clawing his way out of the ground – borne of the earth. Primal, feral, disorientated, and shivering. As the biting wind howls around him, this creature staggers toward the vaguest glimmer of light, pausing briefly to strip rags from a nearby corpse he has tripped over.

This is the opening five minutes of Eden Log, and it doesn’t take long to realise that the French are suddenly very serious about their sci-fi.

The film takes the form of a fairly simplistic, computer game level structure – our protagonist soon discovers he is on level -5 of the vast Eden Log complex, and has to endure trials or solve puzzles as he earns his passage up to the surface, one level at a time.  At the climax of each episode we all learn a little bit more about the man and this mysterious world, and slowly we are all allowed to put the pieces together and work out what the hell is going on.

 

What I really enjoyed about this film was how lo-fi the whole endeavour was. The visual palette is unremittingly bleak and practically monochrome, dealing largely in shades of blue and grey. Clovis Cornillac’s “Tolbiac” carries the film exuding a gruff, coarse attitude, and in actual fact the first half hour of the film is almost completely mute, save for the odd public-service announcement that flickers automatically onto a wall, triggered by his presence. . .

As we follow Tolbiac closer to the surface, there is a scene of exposition which is carried out in a very bizarre room where everything hangs from the ceiling via a complex network of wires and pulleys. It may be completely superfluous, but you cant help but admire the skill with which it is brought to the screen.

 

Unfortunately I cannot allow myself to be wholeheartedly uncritical of Eden Log – there are some major leaps of logic and continuity which may require repeated viewings to totally grasp, not least of all a shockingly violent rape scene which exploded seemingly out of nowhere and certainly left me briefly confused as to whether it was a dream sequence or not. There are also some seriously wobbly Mutants whose make up and general presence merely detract from the core story, and if all that’s not enough, the conclusion, whilst clearly wanting to be ambiguous and open to debate felt more like it was just baffling and unexplained.

 

Overall however, I think it is a film definitely worth a watch by sci-fi fans. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it felt very reminiscent to me of 90’s low budget shocker Cube. The first half of the film is certainly a compelling, visceral experience, but once the talking starts and the need to tell a story kicks in, it gets a little bit muddled, so it just felt like a bit of a shame that it lost focus.  Considering that these are the exact same complaints that many people levelled at the blisteringly excellent Wall-E, I don’t think its a sufficiently large hurdle to prevent one’s enjoyment of this film.

 

Watch the trailer: here

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One thought on “Eden Log – movie review

  1. I agree with your review totally. There is much to admire about Eden Log, and I thought the device of having Tolbiac suffer amnesia so that the viewer discovers the strange world with him was effective. And I personally liked the slow, brooding pace. However, not enough is explained (not that everything has to be explained, but what is explained should make sense and tie-in together), so you’re not wholly convinced by the world Franck Vestiel has created. The film’s priority is visual aesthetics (the scene with the superfluous pulleys and wires that you mentioned is a prime example, seemingly totally pointless devices, other than to add to the visual aesthetics). Had the plot and script been written with more skill and care Eden Log could have been a true SF/horror masterpiece, but I’m sure it’ll be seen as a cult classic non-the-less.

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