Gruesome Reviews

“Pandorica” (2016): How Dull Can Dull Be?

The story told in writer/director Tom Paton’s Pandorica will be immediately identifiable to anyone who’s ever seen an apocalyptic Sci-Fi film. In a what can only be described as a “Way too much exposition because we have no money” opening scene, we’re informed that once again, the world as we know it, is no more. Exactly why isn’t specified, but humanity is toast, except for the few remaining groups of people who’ve formed primitive tribes. Tribes with names like the Varosha, who just happen to be the focus of this film. It seems that the time has come for a new leader to be chosen for the tribe, and the Varosha have a ritual where three young members are chosen, and left to fight each other to the death in the middle of a foreboding (& uncannily brightly lit) forest. The one who comes forth once the sun rises, the sole survivor, will be crowned new leader of the tribe.

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So off go outgoing leader Nus (Luke D’Silva), and the three chosen combatants, Eiren (Jade Hobday), Ares (Marc Zammit), and Thade (Adam Bond) into the dark forest (Which isn’t really too dark at all). And we can immediately identify the personalities connected to each of these characters, Eiren is head strong and smart, Ares is brutal, uncaring & cold, and Thade is the one that’s too nice to be caught up in all of this. He’s also really clumsy. The three of them must battle each other to the death, but things get complicated when they run into Finn (Lauren Howard), a member of another tribe that’s on the run from a couple of goons called “Warriors” (And wear headgear that closely resembles the creature from Predator). She’s on the run because she possesses a red box that holds a terrifying secret. And the warriors aren’t coming out to play, they want the box, and whatever’s in it – now.

So what we have here is a Hunger Games/Road Warrior/Blair Witch mashup. While that might sound remotely interesting to a few of you out there, trust me when I say that it ain’t. Actually, Paton might’ve created the dullest Sci-Fi/Apocalypse film ever produced. And in a world where films like ‘After Earth’ actually exist, that’s really saying something. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I sat down to watch this, but I hardly expected a battle to remain conscious to take place.

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I’m not going to sit here and decry a film for being low budget. But I will decry a film for having little to no imagination, and only the slightest of plot lines to hang its hat on. Films like Pandorica have the annoying habit of constantly reminding the viewer that it had little to no money to work with. So instead of trying to engage its audience by featuring a strong story to keep them interested, it just has the characters running around that well lit forest, spouting inanities as they come across the occasional signs of the civilization that once was. So we get to see a few burnt out automobiles, a couple of guys tossing people around, and a maze that seems to be made of those cases that you carry rocket launchers around in (Although why someone would build a maze made of these things isn’t explained. And where the heck did all the rocket launchers go)?

The performances range from earnest to grade school, with Hobday standing out in her Braveheart styled make up, and Bentley Kalu bringing up the rear as he tries really hard to be intimidating while he pops his eyes out of his skull as Nine, one of the warriors. Everyone else falls squarely in the middle acting wise, but if nothing else, they’re all quite earnest. I guess that’s gotta count for something. The dialogue is fairly stilted, although the characters do take a few moments to speak in another language between themselves every so often. Exactly why they do this is never made clear though. They all speak perfectly good English, so why do they start speaking in a completely different language occasionally? In an effort to be kind, I chalked it up to each existing tribe having a language all its own to speak amongst themselves in times of trouble. Yeeah…that’s the ticket.

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The contents of the box only remains in question for a short while, as someone opens it and takes whatever’s inside of it out. I’m not going to spoil the surprise (?), but once revealed, it’s hardly much of a surprise at all. Pandorica does have a few things going for it though. It features some halfway decent fight choreography, and some drop dead gorgeous cinematography (by George Burt & Martyna Kittner) that gives the film a gorgeous gloss it doesn’t deserve. As has become a habit in low budget films of late, the use of a drone to get some overhead shots of the forest is featured here. And once again, it works beautifully. But scenes that take place in the evening, where there shouldn’t be any light at all (Save for the torches our characters carry with them), are so well lit I had to wonder if anyone ever noticed that they didn’t need a torch at all. It actually makes the actors look silly, when we see them holding a torch, and acting as if that’s the only light they have, when it’s so obvious that there are flood lights all around them. This is the brightest forest I’ve ever encountered in a film which is supposed to have a forest that acts a detriment to the task at hand. It’s so brightly lit, it takes away all of the tension we’re supposed to be experiencing.

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In the end, I won the battle, and stayed awake for the entire 82 minute running time of Pandorica – but it wasn’t easy. I hate to crap on films like this, because I know the people behind it had good intentions as they made it. No one sets out to make a bad film, do they? But damn, damn, double damn! Pandorica is pretty awful. It’s so dull & boring that songs should be written about my battle to stay awake as I watched it. If you’re in the mood to see some actors dropped into the forest, pretending to play war with sharpened sticks, while wearing some appropriately ripped clothing, and strategically applied makeup on their faces – then Pandorica is for you. Otherwise, stay far away from this one. I’m not sure if any of you have the intestinal fortitude it takes to stay awake during films like this one.

Pandorica  1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

The Black Saint
Santos Ellin Jr (AKA The Black Saint) has been watching films of dubious quality since time began, he has also watched a few horror films along the way as well. He has been writing for Horrornews.net for the last four years and was promoted to the position of Lead Theatrical Reviewer/Interviewer/PR last year. He makes so much money doing this that he needs do nothing else with his life but he was also asked to be a co-host of the Horror News Radio podcast last year as well. It’s been said (by a family member) that he is indeed the glue that holds the podcast together although his co-hosts might not agree. He thinks they are all jealous of him anyway.
The Black Saint
Santos Ellin Jr (AKA The Black Saint) has been watching films of dubious quality since time began, he has also watched a few horror films along the way as well. He has been writing for Horrornews.net for the last four years and was promoted to the position of Lead Theatrical Reviewer/Interviewer/PR last year. He makes so much money doing this that he needs do nothing else with his life but he was also asked to be a co-host of the Horror News Radio podcast last year as well. It’s been said (by a family member) that he is indeed the glue that holds the podcast together although his co-hosts might not agree. He thinks they are all jealous of him anyway.