Reviewbr> "Now go my children I will bring your sister. We must all perform our sacred duties." - The Pastor
Three Scientists are working late one night at the National History Museum, with the only other person in the building being J.T the security guard. Two of the Scientists, Sam and John, have been brought in to analysis samples taken from a meteorite found in the ice at New Zealand's Antarctic Scott base. Sam discovers proof that life is extraterrestrial in origin and asks John to verify her findings. The third Scientist Ange decides it's going to be a long night and heads on down to J.T's security station to order in pizza.
A group of Fundamental Christians breach the Museum's security with an agenda involving erasing all evidence of the meteorite discoveries. What follows is a tense movie dealing with Science versus Religion, thankfully wrapped in a tense almost slasher style stalking style. Can the Scientists save their discoveries or will the Fundos erase knowledge in their crusade to prove God loves everyone, apparently in a sort of homicidal fashion. One person is not who they seem and one Fundo is more demented than the rest, a good tense low budget film unfolds.
For a movie that has a reported total budget of under $5,000 Fundamental is actually pretty solid albeit with the odd flaw and irritation. The movie is filmed in the traditional sense with the odd "found footage" scene being provided by security cameras, which was a pleasant surprise given the insane amount of "footage" movies being pumped out at the moment. Director Bill Hunt shows that he knows how to make a movie and clearly has a handle on the thriller aspects Fundamental requires.
Let's get the bad out of the way and then we can discuss why this movie is required viewing for all Readers. During the first block of the flick security guard J.T explains the dangers inherent in the building to the newly arrived Scientist John. Okay no problems thus far except for a couple of the dangers, which are highlighted but which never eventuate in the rest of the movie! I was mildly irritated that the plot foreshadowing was either forgotten about or was missed by the final Editor of the script. A bit clumsy for mine, overall the script could have done with a bit more tightening to jettison extraneous material. I was also slightly miffed that the science versus religion debate kept bobbing to the surface and then sinking on some pretty bland arguments, the Writers didn't kick any goals with this aspect of the script especially considering the actions of one of the Scientists that was a clear opportunity to explore the whole Science proves the existence of a higher power thing. For mine the themes were completely mishandled and ended up being pretty trite to be honest.
A good tense movie filmed on a limited budget, has New Zealand found another Peter Jackson?
On the bright side Director Bill Hunt takes his limited budget and gets the best possible result out of it, and no I'm not just talking about avoiding the boom mike in frame. Hunt actually demonstrates some talent behind the camera that had me nodding my head in approval. Tension is maintained through the first half of the movie with plenty of dark spaces, the antagonists kept off screen, and this really cool roving camera at about knee height. I was rocking out to the visuals, sure there wasn't a lot of cash spent on sets but the locations did the job without anything unnecessary being constructed. If you want to see how to shot a movie with plenty of atmosphere then dial on in, Bill Hunt gives a post graduate lesson in how to shot things without resorting to the sort of gimmicks that are ruining the dark genre.
I was also high fiving the girl scouts I've got locked up in my pantry with Hunt handling the death scenes like Tobe Hooper circa Texas Chainsaw Massacre on crack. We're talking a complete lack of blood and guts, a welcome change for this sort of movie, with the audience believing they are seeing a lot more than they actually do. Hunt keeps it real but doesn't shove our face into the grisly details. I can appreciate that sort of approach and believe its fair superior film making to the likes of Eli Roth who feel they need to bash the audience around the head to have any impact. So yeah this one is fine for the younger folk to touch bases with.
Acting isn't the strongest aspect of Fundamental though two thumbs up for no one staring directly into the camera. You get the feeling the Actors here were self conscious and with not a lot of experience amongst the cast. A sort of stilted wood is going down in some scenes that would have lead to re-shoots on movies with larger budgets. No one is hopeless terribly but then no one is exactly heading to Hollywood to knock them dead either.
The plot is simplicity incarnate, with the proviso that the attempt at themes is pretty poor. People trapped in a large building gradually being picked off by largely unseen assailants. We only really get a good exposure of the antagonists in the final block of the movie, and yes there's that crazed religious thing that does tend to put you on edge. During the final twenty minutes or so a couple of surprises and twists enter the equation which does a lot to raise this movie above the general run of the mill religious nutters on the loose flick. Actually Fundamental would make a good companion piece to Kevin Smith's Red State if wanting to make a full night of it.
I was also mightily impressed by the score delivered by James Dunlop. Okay so it definitely sounded like a lot of horror scores you have heard before but it fitted Bill Hunt's visuals like a brought one. Full of tension and chord movements that match the action you are seeing on the screen. Full marks to Dunlop for nailed this aspect of the movie to the barn door.
Fundamental sort of came out of left field and imposed itself on my review queue but I rocked on out with it, warts and all. I wouldn't call it the best movie I've stumbled on this year but by hell it was far from the worse. That might sound like faint praise, which I don't mean it to be, Bill Hunt delivers a movie that entertains and more importantly that doesn't wallow in either some weird notion of art or attempts to hammer the audience into submission with blood and gore. Recommended to Readers who dig independent films rather than conveyor belt eye candy out of Boredwood, I had a good time with the movie and you will as well. And the best news, you can catch a free screening below. Fundamental has its very own website right here for those wanting additional information or who may want to sling a few bucks at the movie makers.