Gillian MacGregor in Beyond
"MacGregor delivers a tour de force."

We're all familiar with the question: what would you do if an asteroid was on a collision course with Earth and you only had a short time left before it hit? How would you spend those last few days?

It's time to think about what's important. Your family? Your freedom? Your life, or the lives of strangers? Now imagine that there's an alien spaceship hovering over the Earth, that most other people have already been killed, and you're left with your partner, scavenging, hiding, trying to survive. Where do your responsibilities lie?

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Maya (Gillian MacGregor) tells Cole (Richard J Danum) that she can't have children. Then she gets pregnant. It's a difficult time. The asteroid is coming. He loses his job. Everything seems to be falling to pieces and he tells her he doesn't think this is right, but she wants to go ahead with the pregnancy anyway. His desire to protect her rages against his fear of the responsibilities crashing upon him. He wishes he could just lock her in a cupboard and keep all the ills of the world at bay. She never seems to cooperate and they fight all the time.

In a corner shop, a desperate man pulls a gun on the cashier. Cole watches from behind the shelves. If he intervenes, will it help, or will it endanger them all?

Ostensibly science fiction, actually something much more complicated, Beyond is one of the bleakest films you'll see this year but there's no denying it has power. Visually, it achieves an amazing amount on its tiny budget, partly because directors Baker and Large know when to show us very little. Narratively it struggles, in places, to bear up the weight of its own ambition, and the pacing sometimes falters, but there isn't a weak performance in it and MacGregor delivers a tour de force as the object of Cole's debatable affections. Sharp, witty, sometimes deeply unpleasant but always compelling, she threatens to overwhelm the film, but this crushing presence is what makes the story convince. Danum, by contrast, is understated even in his bursts of aggression, Cole seeming perpetually out of his depth. They don't need an alien invasion to find themselves in trouble.

Smart, inventive, genuinely creative and at times agonising to watch this is a great calling card for all involved. It's a bold little film that deserves to be higher on the radar.

Reviewed on: 10 Jan 2015
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As an object of uncertain origin hurtles towards Earth, a young couple struggle to face the future.
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Director: Joseph Baker, Tom Large

Writer: Joseph Baker, Tom Large

Starring: Richard J Danum, Gillian MacGregor, Paul Brannigan, Kristian Hart

Year: 2014

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK

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