When a lowly postman is inducted into a top-secret superhuman DNA program at a research facility, it’s revealed that he’ll be able to receive, control and send information based on the senses of others.
Martin Grof’s second film, Sensation, follows Andrew Cooper (Eugene Simon), a young postman whose desire to discover more about his ancestry, specifically, his father, leads him into a murky world of DNA experimentation. He is told that his DNA test did not deliver any results but it shows that he is a candidate for a secret program that would allow him to both send and receive information based on the senses of others.
As intriguing as the premise of the film might be, the execution of the film itself, however, is rather disappointing. I love it when a film throws you in the deep end from the get-go as well as enjoying a slow burn of a story. Sensation tries to both and fails to do either, unfortunately.
Throughout the film, it is difficult to understand the purpose of what is happening to the characters a lot of the time. This is due to Andrew’s perception being altered by receiving information from others. However, even this explanation fails to satisfy as much of the ‘received’ information is not actually being experienced by the others, but instead being projected into Andrew’s mind.
The film is further hampered by a badly executed rug-pull at the end which, instead of changing the game, merely leaves you even more confused and annoyed. This is partly due to the fact that it is a horribly played out trope that seems to defeat the entire object of the film up to this point, but also because it introduces an entirely new subplot (which is tied to a seemingly unrelated detail seen earlier) in the final seconds of the film which goes unresolved. This is also not the only unresolved plot thread as several other threads such as Andrew’s father, who is made to seem crucial to the plot is left unexplained as well as Nazi plots and Andrew’s mother’s apparent awareness of what is happening.
The film does have some stand-out moments with Eugene Simon delivering a believable performance as the confused and distraught Andrew, and Alastair G. Cumming shines as the mysterious, somewhat changeable Dr. Marinus. However, despite being set up as the mastermind of it all, Dr Marinus is sadly underused and his motives poorly explained.
Other performances are less exciting, however. Emily Wyatt’s expressionless, monotone portrayal of Nadia is baffling and a poor style choice as far as direction goes. However, there is another problem, a technical problem with the film which also has a huge impact on the overall experience, namely, the sound.
Sound design is tricky at the best of times and while the score itself isn’t bad, the final mix of the film’s audio is atrocious with the score frequently overpowering the words spoken, or in one case yelled, by the actors. While certain instances may be deliberate stylistic choices, it often happens in a seemingly normal conversation and several character’s lines get lost as a result. This makes the film more confusing as you are not sure what you’ve missed.
However, while I personally feel this film was somewhat of a trainwreck, it is ambitious and has many great ideas which is why it is a pity that it all falls apart. Seeing as this is only Grof’s second film, I look forward to seeing more of his work in future as he continues to develop his skills further. Sensation will be available on Amazon Video for digital download from the 16th of April.
Cliff ‘The Hatman’ Ekron is an avid film lover and passionate about all things supernatural, unexplained, and extraterrestrial. For more of his film-related ramblings, you can also check out https://www.uncutmedia.co.za/category/blogs/the-back-row/.