Hostile Dimensions


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Hostile Dimensions
"Though it might seem to be all over the place – structurally as well as thematically – there’s a tight control underlying Hostile Dimensions which pretty much holds it together and delivers a satisfying story." | Photo: courtesy of Frightfest

The West of Scotland is full of amazing ruins. Not just the castles and the fragments of the Antonine Wall which tourists get excited about, but all the old abandoned municipal concrete structures of the Sixties and Seventies, with their florid graffiti, bizarre collections of forsaken objects and inadequate Keep Out signs. Many a photographer loves these places. They’re a favourite of urban explorers and a magnet for filmmakers. Graham Hughes’ latest film opens within one of them, as does the film being made by his characters, which will in turn be watched by two other characters on the internet. The viral success of 2019’s Death Of A Vlogger opened doors for Hughes, and now he’s opening them for us.

That first door is probably the most disturbing, standing alone and upright in its simple wooden frame in the middle of an empty room. “Brian, come and look at this weird door!” Emily (Josie Rogers) calls. Soon Emily will have disappeared and the video will be a hit, although nobody takes it very seriously. Sam (Annabel Logan) and Ash (Joma West), however, become intrigued by the idea of finding the missing woman. The door is a starting point so they find it and bring it home. What they find when they open it is not at all what they expected.

A combination of Everything Everywhere All At Once-style silliness and deeply unsettling revelations characterise Hughes’ contribution to Frightfest 2023. There’s lots of room for laughter – with a distinctly West of Scotland sense of humour – but viewers can’t afford to relax too much, because there are also some real scares. When they figure out that the door can act as a portal to any number of parallel worlds, Sam and Ash approach a university physicist, Innis (Paddy Kondracki) for help. He’s heard of the doors before, and although he warns them against getting into ‘tinfoil hat, subreddit, 4chan territory,’ he also has ideas about how to control where they lead. Unfortunately, just as the trio begins to make progress, it emerges that there’s somebody else out there – somebody who is much more experienced at this, and has a powerful ally – who will do anything to stop them.

Though it might seem to be all over the place – structurally as well as thematically – there’s a tight control underlying Hostile Dimensions which pretty much holds it together and delivers a satisfying story. Hughes may not have budget to make it a full on visual spectacular but he nevertheless delivers some magical moments, whilst his skills as an editor come to the fore in a marvellously inventive chase scene towards the end. The performances are of variable quality but by and large they’re strong enough to make it work. The two leads have a freshness about them which adds to the film’s energy. This helps to carry it through patches of uneven pacing, and makes the characters likeable even though we don’t get to know them in any depth.

There are some smart ideas hidden in the bizarre subplots and sparky, naturalistic dialogue. The darker turn which the film takes towards the end is carefully set up, but not everyone will see it coming. Though it plays with chaos, this is a solid piece of filmmaking which will leave you eager to see what Hughes will come up with next.

Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2023
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Two documentary filmmakers traverse alternate dimensions, confronting nightmares to uncover the truth behind a graffiti artist’s disappearance who seems to have vanished into thin air. These dimensions mix the ordinary with the bizarre - a hilly idyll is thrown off kilter by whales floating across the skies.

Director: Graham Hughes

Starring: Graham Hughes, Stephen Beavis, Annabel Logan, Andy Stewart

Year: 2023

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: UK

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