Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Radius' (2017)
The Ultimate Game of Keep Away
Here's the thing about this movie. There was a lot to hate about it, but a lot to love about it. It really felt like a ton of the plot was forced. I'm not sure if I can call it Deus Ex Machina, but there were definitely some corners the director or writer wrote themselves into and had to force their way out.
The acting was magnificent, though. I really appreciate the fact that the male and female lead deliver on their responses to the illogical. My favorite kind of characters are those who approach the illogical with the best logical thinking they can. Yeah, there's a lot of overreacting and irrational behavior, but that just expresses the human elements. In the end, the characters aren't offensively stupid or frantic ninnies. Good characters are relatable and help the audience immerse.
The plot is where most of the problems occur. Now, the circumstances are fascinating as fuck. As the descriptions mentions, anyone who comes within 50 feet of the male lead drops dead. But then they just start layering needless bullshit into it. I hate to say it, but the female lead served literally no purpose other than a McGuffin with legs that allowed the male lead to be in certain places for the purpose of the plot. Don't get me wrong, she was a fully developed character, and marvelously acted, but her only purpose was to get the male lead from point A to point B. She could have been replaced by an inanimate object. One could make the argument that she's necessary to tie the full plot of the movie together, but in the spoilers I'll argue why that's a total pack of crap.
Nothing to speak of with the effects or the atmosphere... It looks like they just filmed from location to location. Every spot was brilliantly chosen to be devoid of humans, though which helps set the sense of total isolation that this movie tries to drive home.
I actually do recommend this movie. Don't get me wrong, as a critic, it really tested my patience at some points. I don't think most horror heads are going to like it. This is more of a general audiences thriller, kinda...
So, what I mean when I said the woman is just a very well developed McGuffin with legs... Okay, imagine you develop a concept where everyone dies if they come within 50 feet of a character. You have to establish some things about the concept. Is it medical? Is it paranormal? Is it man-made? Is it alien? Yadda, yadda, yadda. As the whole point of this movie is trying to figure out and deal with how this death bubble works, there need to be some developments where things can be eliminated. So, how do you get a guy who kills everyone within 50 feet into places like a hospital? Once everyone in the hospital is dead, how is he going to run a CAT scan, let alone know how to read one?
Shit just traveling from point A to B, the kind of havoc he'd cause would leave a trail like Godzilla had just fucking walked through. Animals dying left and right, people dropping dead and cars running off the road. It wouldn't exactly be hard to find him.
So they introduce Jane, who is actually Rose, not to be mistaken for Lily, her twin sister. Do you see what I'm saying about the layering here? This shit was completely needless! ANYWHO, as long as Jane is near the male lead Liam, nobody dies. Now Liam can get to anywhere the plot needs him to go. Even better, this can create a certain level of tension, like when Liam gets stuck in an elevator and Jane has to chase it down the stairs.
Now, when this dynamic is used right, it is pretty good at delivering things like tension. But here's the thing. It's not necessary. It would be WAY more interesting and tense for Liam to have to invent ways of traveling safely and communicating with people from a safe distance. It would be way more interesting to force Liam to constantly deal with the problem and the consequences of failing to do so.
Then there's the final twist. You find out that Liam is a serial killer, who killed Jane's sister Lily, and he was after Jane because she's a twin and it's like a serial killer "two for the price of one" deal. Neither of them remember this because everyone has fucking amnesia, because of course they fucking do. And in the end, this is used as an out to give Liam a reason to kill himself because, he can't live with the guilt. So, the writer or the directer concocted this needless dynamic not only to get Liam from point A to point B, but also to concoct an out, because they probably couldn't figure out a real ending.
However, the tension and the acting, and even parts of the frustrating yet fascinating plot make this movie completely worth it in my book. I recommend it for general audiences as opposed to horror heads.