As far as cosmic-horror thrills are concerned, A.T. White’s Starish has a very muted response. There’s definitely a presence of A Quiet Place-like monsters every now and then, but White’s vision – Which is supremely led by a brilliantly framed outlook of shredded post-apocalypse mostly deals with interpersonal emotional conflicts that need a proper resolution. In doing the obvious, the director lays down a visually spectacular, low-budget world that has been artificially designated for Aubrey’s (Virginia Gardner) self-reflection.
While the narrative approach doesn’t take away anything from the film’s central premise of grief, there’s a definite lack of consistency when the character’s motivations are all just a random gaze of luck out of the blue. White even goes into a spectacularly well-shot loop-sequence that might remind people of the climatic resolve of Luc Besson’s Lucy. But the entire trajectory of trying to infuse meta-element comes off less as an introspection of a lack of elements and more as an idea to infuse more tension that will confuse instead of confounding the audience.
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Opening up on a funeral White makes sure that his protagonist is stilted as someone who isn’t really meant for the world. He even hints that she has always had her now deceased friend Grace (Christina Masterson) as her only connecting tissue to the world that feels strange. However, what feels like a bleak narrative for proper introspection for grief and tragedy, goes into full-animated mode once a signal – That has been triggered by one of the mixtapes that Grace has left for Aubrey is played. The film then goes into a monster-mode that simply doesn’t sit right with the intial settings.
White, who has been a musician before diving into filmmaking sure knows how to select the tracklist for his film. The indie numbers that come throughout the narrative – Including the ones that get played on the tape are wonderfully orchestrated. However, the lead performance by Marvel Runaway’s Virginia Gardner is oddly numbing. The film which could have used a bit more plot and introspection into what keeps the central conflict and the character inside her dead friend’s apartment only manages to skim through the surface of that reason. The way the director keeps hanging onto a cosmic look into forgiveness definitely doesn’t provide any kind of hope to the narrative that keeps wobbling into finding a sense of place to really ring true.
The director tries really hard to blend together the elements of loss, love and the end of the world together but some things just don’t stick together if you don’t provide it a floating ground. A.T White’s Starfish is a film that has brilliant production values for a low-budget sci-fi film. But it’s far too self-contained in its representation to really make its own place among a sea of seen-before advents.