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Arcadian (15)

Cast: Jaeden Martell, Nicolas Cage, Maxwell Jenkins
Genre: SciFi
Author(s): Mike Nilon
Director: Benjamin Brewer
Release Date: 14/06/2024 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 92mins
Country: US
Year: 2024

Resourceful father Paul and twin teenage sons Joseph and Thomas seek refuge in their isolated farmhouse each night from the otherworldly beasts, which hunt our species under a cloak of darkness. Before the sun sets, the family checks windows, security bars and homemade barricades to prevent the creatures from invading their modest sanctum.


LondonNet Film Review

Arcadian (15) Film Review from LondonNet

Conceived by screenwriter Michael Nilon during the pandemic, Arcadian is a post-apocalyptic survival thriller that imagines a deadly virus knocking humans off their pedestals, eventually giving birth to gnarled, nocturnal beasts that hunt our ravaged species under a cloak of darkness. Director Benjamin Brewer’s picture unfolds through the eyes of a stricken, close-knit family rallying together against the otherworldly predators from a fortified farmhouse stronghold…

The claustrophobic set-up is eerily reminiscent of the 2017 psychological horror It Comes At Night starring Joel Edgerton and climactic scenes in A Quiet Place. However, Brewer stages his slick set-pieces with the volume turned up and suspense dialled down to tolerable. Creature design is original, melding cartoonish and grotesque elements with staccato bursts of sound created when the beasts rapidly clack their jaws before they coalesce into a giant wheel and roll en masse after fugitive prey.

A creepy centrepiece involving one digitally rendered interloper relies too heavily on crazy good fortune to withstand scrutiny of logic and plausibility. Nicolas Cage’s performances are usually the craziest element on screen but in Arcadian, the Oscar winner is surprisingly understated and effective as a father willing to sacrifice everything to protect his offspring. He allows young co-stars Jaeden Martell and Maxwell Jenkins to shine although the script lumbers cast with occasionally clunky dialogue.

Resourceful father Paul (Cage) and twin teenage sons Joseph (Martell) and Thomas (Jenkins) seek refuge in their isolated farmhouse each night from the otherworldly beasts that hunt human prey. Before the sun sets, the family checks windows, security bars and homemade barricades to prevent the creatures from invading their modest sanctum. During daylight, Paul and Joseph sporadically salvage shoreline scrap but they don’t stray far from the farm.

Meanwhile Thomas happily spends hours on a neighbouring estate run by Mr and Mrs Rose (Joe Dixon, Samantha Coughlan) whose daughter Charlotte (Sadie Soverall) has caught his eye. Joseph is frustrated by his brother’s eagerness to spend precious time away from home but Paul argues that you can’t tame an adventurous spirit or raging hormones. An impromptu visit to the Rose farm strands Thomas far from home in territory inhabited by the bloodthirsty beasts and Paul faces an agonising choice between his two sons, who he has protected since they were helpless, mewling infants.

Filmed on location in Ireland, Arcadian doesn’t reveal the creatures in full until we’re well into the opening hour. From that point, Brewer rapidly escalates the bloodshed, shooting predominantly on twitchy, handheld cameras to stay close to the characters. Unfortunately, that stylistic choice reduces some fight sequences to an unintelligible blur. Aching inevitability of a final stand diminishes any deliberate plucking of heartstrings to a tickle.

– Kim Hu


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