Welcome to Curiosity, 2018.
Directed by Ben Pickering
Starring: Kacey Clarke, Amrita Acharia, Richard Blackwood, Lili Bordan and Stephen Marcus.
Four interconnected stories surrounding the escape from prison of a notorious serial killer.
Ben Pickering’s Welcome to Curiosity see’s the director join with writer Darren Ripley for a second time, following their joint debut into film with British indie action, The Smoke (2014). Pickering’s latest film seeks to examine four separate narratives connecting them thematically with the commonality of curiosity which ends the life of a key character in each narrative. It takes the old adage, ‘curiosity killed the cat’ and turns it into the basis for a script.
Welcome to Curiosity and The Smoke, which remain separated by four years, share an unfortunate experience of being equally disappointing and dull. It seems that time has only allowed cinematography to progress out of infancy, while all other aspects of pace, narrative, style and genre, unfortunately, still radiate an immaturity. The enticing synopsis plays on the audience’s own sense of curiosity, suggesting a more cognitive investigation into what curiosity means to us and how we relate ourselves to that experience and the feeling of not knowing, but wanting to know. In a somewhat similar way to the ABC’s of Death anthologies, which focuses on a single thematic undertone, Pickering’s film attempts to utilise a similar all-encompassing concept. The only issue being Pickering’s film lacks the stylistic and purposeful segmentations within the ABC’s of Death anthologies that make the film interesting.
Sincerely, it is deeply unfortunate that Pickering’s film Welcome to Curiosity falls short. Despite its shortcomings, the modest and frankly surprising budget of £200,000 illustrates what can be accomplished visually on a small budget. It is a testament to any aspiring filmmaker who holds ambitions of making an independent film on a low-budget and furthermore proves what acting talent can be found at a lower cost. The acting, for the most part, is well thought out and ardent. Blackwood’s character Fordy runs away with the film, accomplishing a stellar performance from a poorly written script. The intensity and subtleness that Blackwood prescribes to his character make for an utterly convincing performance. The same can be said for Cristian Solimeno and Lara Heller who all make a considerable effort to breathe life and reality into characters that enter into wild, incomprehensible situations. This is where Welcome to Curiosity loses its momentum in a devastating and unrecoverable way.
Produced in collaboration with Shooting Tiger Pictures and Taffy Boy Films Welcome To Curiosityis funded entirely through crowdfunding platform seedrs.com. Bruce Melhuish leads with the cinematography while production design is fronted by Hannah Howell. Award-winning music composers, Luke Corradine and Stewart Dugdale are responsible for producing the original music score which notably improves the integrity of the film. Moments are genuinely made stronger by their collaborative musical composition.
The cinematography which embellishes Pickering’s film with some style remains consistent throughout. A motif not present elsewhere. It emphasises and subtracts in scientific measure to provide each scene with what it needs. Cinematographer Bruce Melhuish (The Glass Man, I Made This For You) allows for what’s within the frame to speak for itself, working on multiple levels to emphasise the action on screen whilst letting the drama speak without being too visually distracting.
Pickering’s film doesn’t lose its draw in the visuals, or even so far as in the editing, although it isn’t commendable, Welcome to Curiosity’s substantial faults lie in the way it is written. Unfortunately, the script only taps the surface of a what could have been a more insightful and meaningful look at an underrated and unexplored theme. The script echoes all the clichés of an action thriller while borrowing clichés from genres that make the viewer question the direction and intentions of the film. The writer doesn’t provide a satisfactory validation for each characters unbelievable actions or even intentions. The circumstance of each character that Ripley tries to build upon, skips past momentous events that would normally mark significant development, in exchange for pace. The viewer loses a lot of connection with the characters as a result because the focus is placed on the destination of their accelerated journey’s, as opposed to the way increasingly bad events validate character choices each time one is made.
Thematically, the film lies in obscurity. Despite holding potential, the unexplored theme of curiosity simply emphasises the disconnect between each segment. It is interesting and ironic to note that each individual narrative continues to draw the attention and interest of the viewer out of a need to understand how the segments relate to one another. Unsatisfyingly, the answer is they don’t. The defining commonality is solely curiosity. A theme which remains uninvestigated and which does little to educate its audience on the meaning or relationship we share with the concept. Pickering and Ridley simply use it to tie together a few violent acts that hold no validity.
Pickering’s film ultimately lacks the ambition and insight to utilise an all-encompassing thematic concept. The product resembles a loose attempt to tie segmented and disconnected stories which could have been easily written on a whim. The predictability of the narrative is harsh, while the lack of intention is painfully upsetting. The acting, cinematography, musical score and budget remain the most important and substantially impressive parts to Pickering’s film, however, it remains almost impossible to overlook the central issues that define and direct the film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★