In a parallel present, delivery man Ray Tincelli is struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother. After a series of two-bit hustles and unsuccessful swindles, Ray takes a job in a strange new realm of the gig economy: trekking deep into the forest, pulling cable over miles of terrain to connect large, metal cubes that link together the new quantum trading market. As he gets pulled deeper into the zone, he encounters growing hostility and the threat of robot cablers, and must choose to either help his fellow workers or to get rich and get out.

After winning the Jury’s Choice Award at Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival and being nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature, ‘Lapsis‘ lands another international film festival with the Canadian premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival. This scifi-mystery is one the most well made indie films you’ll see this year.

Written and directed by Noah Hutton, the film tackles subjects such as health care, employment and capitalism. The fear of manual labour being fully automated is real, so when the film adds a sense of mystery surrounding the origin of these rather nifty robot cablers, the stakes get raised even higher. For Ray (Dean Imperial), this isn’t just an ordinary weekend job to make some quick cash, as a matter of fact he’s trying to take care of his sick brother who’s suffering from some sort of chronic fatigue disorder. When his username “Lapsis Beefcake” raises plenty of suspicious cablers’ eyebrows, he’ll have to figure out what exactly is going on beneath the surface of this seemingly “ordinary” job in the middle of nature.

Hutton’s film has an incredibly well thought-through concept that isn’t too futuristic, and is constructed with a perfect set up, middle and ending that keeps you intrigued and guessing which path the story is about to take for its entire runtime. Not only is the direction and writing on point, the score, editing, cinematography and acting are astonishingly strong. ‘Lapsis‘ never feels amateurish – which sometimes happens with small budget indie genre-films. Especially the largely unknown ensemble is perfectly cast.

Imperial’s performance of 70’s mobster look-a-like Ray, feels exceptionally natural. Hutton did a great job giving him a character arc that not only feels relatable, but gives Imperial a chance to truly shine. Likewise with Madeline Wise (‘Crashing‘), playing a rather secretive cabler that keeps crossing paths with Ray. Even though her character only really gets introduced when we’re already half way in, she does grow to be of vital importance in Ray’s adventure to uncover the truth. The rest of the ensemble consists of a wide range of colourful individuals with interesting backstories and some are important in the upcoming whirlwind of events Ray’s about to get sucked into.

Lapsis has something to say about monopolies, exploitation of employees and private health care without being preachy. The way Noah Hutton successfully makes you listen, while blending all of these serious subjects into a clever scifi/mystery adventure is not only remarkable, but also unlike anything I’ve seen this year. An exceptionally effective debut feature film.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lapsis‘ will have its Canadian premiere at Fantasia International Film Festival. You can find more information HERE

Fantasia International Film Festival Review – ‘Lapsis’

Reviewed online (screening as part of Fantasia International Film Festival), August 16, 2020. Running time: 104 min.

PRODUCTION: A Couple 3 Films production. Producers: Taylor Hess, Jesse Miller, Joseph Varca. Executive producers: Alexandra Winter, Rich Winter.

CREW: Director/screenplay/editing/music: Noah Hutton. Cinematography: Mike Gomes.

WITH: Dean Imperial, Madeline Wise, Babe Howard, Ivory Aquino, Dora Madison, James McDaniel, Frank Wood, Arliss Howard, Brett Diggs, Dru Johnston.

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