Expulsion movie review
Expulsion has some struggles in one key area, but otherwise is an entertaining small scale science fiction film.
This is a case of a film getting better as it goes along. Initially, it has the tone and feel of a cheap shoestring budget project that some friends cobbled together to have some fun. As the film settles in to its story and focuses less on some less than enthralling characters, Expulsion dives in to an engaging look at some interesting science fiction themes.
Scott (Colton Tapp) and Vincent (co-director/co-screenwriter Aaron Jackson) are two scientists on the verge of a major breakthrough: tapping into the multiverse, a realm of infinite worlds filled with parallel versions of themselves. Despite Vincent’s constant reminders, Scott recklessly starts exploring their portal to see what’s on the other side on his own.
It isn’t long before he encounters another Scott from another world. This version of Scott has experienced these encounters before and serves as a mentor to his alternate self about the various dangers that come with the portal hopping territory. Other Scott (as he’s credited) is fascinated that Scott is married to his childhood sweetheart, Margail (Rosalie Fisher). Clearly this doesn’t bode well for standard Scott who misses the cues.
Performances aren’t the strength of the film. Most of the cast comes off unsure of how they’re supposed to deliver their lines while others overact in scenes that don’t require as much theatrics. Tapp and Fisher offer the most authentic performances so it’s smart that they have the most screen time. Tapp does a pretty noteworthy job of distinguishing between the two Scotts without hamming it up.
Jackson and co-director/co-screenwriter Sean C. Stephens have to do a lot of early work to set up the film and it’s the roughest portion of Expulsion. After getting through all the exposition and science jargon out of the way, they’re able to focus on meatier areas like meeting variations of yourself and trying to take an active role in fixing earlier wrongs in your life.
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While some areas of the script are telegraphed early, there’s some genuine twists that enhance the final act.
Sets are limited to a house, garage and small office room masquerading as a big corporate boardroom. Locations aren’t a major component of the film since most of the action occurs in Scott’s house and garage/lab.
The script accounts for the majority of the work these scientists do taking place in a garage despite corporate funding in another smart concession to the budget.
Maybe the smartest move Jackson and Stephens make — and it’s one that’s rarely done in smaller budgeted films — is simply working within their financial constraints. They don’t exceed their limitations with hokey looking special effects and approach practical effects, like stab wounds, from the perspective of implying and not showing if they can’t make it look good. There’s an underrated wisdom in that take as you understand the shortcuts instead of ridiculing lousy effects.
Even with a limited budget, Jackson and Stephens pull off the one actor playing two roles on screen trick well including those scenes when both are facing the camera. Strangely the worst special effect/sound effect are the basic gun shots, which don’t look or sound very effective.
That said, I’m really intrigued at the notion of Jackson and Stephens getting a bigger payday to make Expulsion on a larger budget. This is a promising effort and worth checking out.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: American Pop Productions