Review: Everywhen

There are so few sci-fi everywhen-dvdart-smallmovies made in the Nordic region that when one is finally made, it’s a slap in the face of the movie industry that the budget was only 6500 euros and the team behind it was a group of school kids.

Those are not things to hold against Everywhen, though. The efforts put into the film are huge, as can be seen in both the script and in the images. A team of ambitious teenagers, headed by Jarand B. Herdal and Jens Peder Hertzberg, put Everywhen together in part as a school project, and I am sure they learned a lot. The movie is on many levels much better than its budget, which means there must be considerable talent behind the camera.

Everywhen is set a few decades into the future, when teleporting is as normal as buses and trains, and schools have been replaced with small chips containing knowledge. It’s like living in Utopia, until billions of people are reported missing one day, and technology starts failing, bit after bit. The main character finds himself in the wrong dimension, and must find a way back so he can prevent his brother from dying.

It sounds like a high concept science fiction film, and with its dimension jumping and questioning of technology and examination of the position of knowledge in society, Everywhen tries to be a thinking man’s film, although emphasis is put on action too. SWAT teams fire on the two heroes more than once, who fire back while chasing a computer chip and a way back home. All good films also have a personal touch, and that is not left out here, as the main character Ian is mostly concerned with saving his litte brother. Indeed, many aspects of the film is completely by the book – this film is not made by some high school kids running around with dad’s camcorder while improvising lines. While the intricacies of the story can be a bit complicated to follow, and downright confusing at times, the young creators deserve credit for thinking big and taking inspiration from some serious movies, and actually making it work. If not before, you’ll understand that from the scene where one person is introduced as Riddley, and another character is named Scott.

Another strength is the everywhen-crewcinematography, which varies from acceptable (mostly indoor scenes) to excellent, such as the Oslo helicopter scenes or the scenes were streets have been shut down and emptied, just like in “real” movies with 100 times the budget. In action scenes, the camera moves fluently, and in a few scenes the DoP also manages to capture the emotion of the characters in the shots. Not bad for 17 year old kids to even think about such things, in addition to all the other hurdles! What’s even better is the special visual effects, consisting of CG  details and extensions. While not as many as you’d think a sci-fi film should have, they’re better than the “professional” effects of Syfy’s films, and even some small Hollywood films!

The same goes for the music. The synthesized score is probably the best electronic music I’ve heard in a Norwegian film in a decade or two. Think of Hans Zimmer, John Carpenter and Vangelis having a threesome, and their offspring is William Edward’s vibrating soundscapes and pulsating sequencers. I’d buy this soundtrack!

Coincidentally, the Norwegian Everywhen was released to the public at the same time as the Swedish Star Wars fan film Threads of Destiny. Both had super-low budgets, both were made by passionate amateurs, and both were the first sci-fi films from their respective countries in years.

The 62 minute film, shot in English for an international audience, stars only Norwegian actors and while none of them are professionals (except Christian Borch, who in fact makes a living from being on screen as an NRK news anchor), most of them do a decent job in delivering their dialogue. The disc has a few subtitles, which is an advantage in some scenes, but considering what kind of film this is, low budget and all, both dialogue-heavy scenes, action and stunts work well. Elin Synnøve Bråthen, the artist-songwriter (with more than 100 000 likes on her Facebook page, she out-likes rock and pop legends such as Åge Aleksandersen, Morten Harket of A-ha, and Bjørn Eidsvåg – another proof of ambition from the film’s team) who plays a police officer, is perhaps the strongest performer in the ensemble, and she is also one of the not too many actors who look their part; one weakness of the film is that teens – not young adults, but teens – are cast in roles that you’d normally expect experienced adults to fill. I can accept that computer geeks working for the police may be very young in the future, but there has to be a limit somewhere; SWAT duty is not for newly educated college kids! This, alongside details such as stacks of CDs and other 2013 technology being visible, reduces the credibility of the film somewhat, although very little money was available for sets and props. Actually, scrap that last bit; firearms feature aplenty!

everywhen_building

Everywhen can be regarded as an elaborate demo reel or extended audition tape for the team behind it, as I am sure the guys will go far judging from their obvious talents on display, but on its own merits the film both looks good and plays clever. Hollywood directors have debuted with movies not half as good as Everywhen.

Rated 6 of 10.

Directed by Jarand B. Herdal.

Norway, 2014.

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