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The Stratum

USA 2022
produced by
Lauren Senechal, Crash Buist, Jonathan Medina, Ramin Karimloo, Carl Sandin (executive) for Sthenic Studios
directed by Crash Buist
starring Crash Buist, Lauren Senechal, Jonathan Medina, Ramin Karimloo, Wayne T. Carr, David Barlia, Jennifer Lee Laks, Janet Greaves, Jim Johnson, Santiago Segura, Spencer Dooley, June Carryl, Michael Thatcher, Demetria Thomas, Andrew Garrett, Philip Kershaw, Skye Bronfenfrenner, Luke Minske
written by Crash Buist, Lauren Senechal, music by Douglas Yassen

review by
Mike Haberfelner

It's somewhen in the 2050s, and humankind has done a pretty good job destroying the planet, and if that wasn't enough, a new supervirus that makes Covid sound like a walk in the park, has taken its foothold among us, dividing us into the infected who cannot be helped and the non-infected who won't leave home anymore without wearing gas masks. And that it has come to this is in no small part thanks to William Wright (Ramin Karimloo), owner and CEO of Wrightcorp, a company so powerful it has pretty much replaced all gouvernments. Thing is, Wright and the super-rich and powerful have all long left earth to come and live on a satellite in our planet's orbit in earthlike conditions. However, on earth there is a group of rebels led by Edgar Bane (Jonathan Medina) hell-bent on bringing down Wright at all costs. And to achieve that, Bane has hired a freelance hacker, James (Crash Buist), to hack into Wrightcorp's computer system and find out his best-guarded secret. And a secret James sure finds, and in a virtual reality room, too - Wright's daughter Ayla (Lauren Senechal) nobody knows even exists. Thing is, Ayla has a rare condition that makes it impossible for her to survive on daddy's main satellite, so daddy has created a special satellite for her where she lives all on her own, and since her satellite as such is pretty much a bore, she spends most of her time in virtual reality, in a room created just for her. But James finds access to the room, claims he's just a program there to keep her company, and slowly wins her trust - and he starts to like the girl, too, and furthermore is impressed by her, as she has devoted much of her time to create a generator that could end earth's energy crisis for good. However, learning that, her father shuts down her research, as such a generator would put Wrightcorp out of business, and when he too learns that somebody has been in her VR room with her, he shuts down what she considered her safeplace. In the meantime, James learns that Bane plans to take control of Ayla's satellite and land it on earth to infect her with the virus, just to have his revenge on Wright - which would pretty much be her death sentence. Of course, James wants to prevent his at all costs, but without Ayla's VR room it's pretty hard to get in touch with her, while Bane seems pretty determined to go through with his plans, even if he has to kill James to do so ...

 

A rather unusual piece of science fiction - done on a low budget, so it does lack the scope you might have come to expect from a story of this ilk, but what it lacks in spectacle is made up by a well thought through and well-structured script that has a lot of heart and yet enough action to score high on the excitement scale, and that's carried by nicely fleshed out characters played by a solid small ensemble. And a directorial effort that finds the right balance between romance and action helps make this a pretty good genre effort.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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In times of uncertainty of a possible zombie outbreak, a woman has to decide between two men - only one of them's one of the undead.

 

There's No Such Thing as Zombies
starring
Luana Ribeira, Rudy Barrow and Rami Hilmi
special appearances by
Debra Lamb and Lynn Lowry

 

directed by
Eddie Bammeke

written by
Michael Haberfelner

produced by
Michael Haberfelner, Luana Ribeira and Eddie Bammeke

 

now streaming at

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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