Review: Hecatomb (proof-of-concept)

British director Edward Andrews’ micro-budget sci-fi/action epic
proves to be worth the wait…
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This time last year, I chatted with British director Edward Andrews (whose previous works include the hilarious award-winning short, Red Handed, which I also reviewed last year) about his upcoming sci-fi/action flick, Hecatomb; a low budget proof-of-concept set and shot in an unforgiving Mexican desert on the outskirts of Monterrey.

During that summer of 2016, Andrews was still working on turning his raw footage – shot over a tense three-day period with the help of Monterrey based-producer Carlos Dávila – into the epic, VFX-laden short he and fellow producer Eduardo Parra had envisioned from day one. During the hectic year that followed; numerous rewrites, additional shoots, extra voiceover work and countless VFX man hours finally culminated in Hecatomb’s big screen premiere right here in Vancouver, where 150 punters gathered to see what Andrews and Co. had managed to pull out of the bag for a mere $8,500.

What they saw was a 15-minute short that has a real shot at making waves both on the festival circuit and online when it starts to do the rounds later this year. The premise is simple. It’s 2092. Volcanic gas has rendered the vast majority of Earth uninhabitable. In one of the last surviving Free Zone’s, where oxygen has become the main currency, the government, cartels and rebels fight a seemingly never-ending three-way war for control. When the primary cartel’s leader is captured and the crime rate drops, her sicarios experiment on a local prison engineer, Daniel (played by Andrews’ good friend, Simon Arblaster), and coerce him into doing the unthinkable; breaking out their leader and guiding her through the surrounding toxic wasteland without the aid of traditional breathing apparatus…

The main thing to remember here is that, rather being a perfectly contained story, Hecatomb is a proof-of-concept; part of a potentially much larger project. The goal is for Andrews to turn the heads of producers with the financial power to make things happen, and on that front the film succeeds multiple times over. From a technical point of view, Hecatomb is masterfully put together. A wonderful, hopefully soon to be released behind-the-scenes documentary covers the chaotic shoot, demonstrating the detail behind the eye-catching cinematography and painstaking VFX shots that populate the production. While drone flyovers capture stunning Monterrey vistas, multiple standout shots include the first close up of San Barcoa prison, and the reveal of Daniel tethered to the prized cartel leader via the sort of futuristic experimental technology that no doubt has the potential to either save, or destroy all of mankind.

Arblaster and the rest of the cast put in a fine shift, especially when the difficult circumstances of the shoot (cancelled flights, unbearable heat, motor vehicle failures and what could have been real life cartels taking an interest in proceedings) are taken into account. Rounding things off is Toni Martin Dobrzanski’s hauntingly impactful score, performed in full by the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra. Again, this film cost $8,500. And that’s Canadian dollars, which anyone living in Vancouver knows is usually enough to merely scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to this sort of production.

Keep your eyes open, folks, Hecatomb will be exploding onto YouTube and appearing at a festival near you later this year…

For more information, see Hecatomb’s facebook page

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