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Expiration – 6


Director – Alastair Orr

Cast – Brandon Auret, Clive Gilson, Craig Hawks, Christien Le Roux, Ryan Macquet, Alex Radntiz, Nic Rasenti, Ingeborg Riedmaier, Justin Strydom, Michael Thompson

Release Year – 2013

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Expiration was a film that I went into pretty much “blind” (no trailer, no plot knowledge) and it made for a pretty exciting experience at times despite mixed feelings in the end. Four participants sign up for a mysterious medical test that grants them $250,000 upon completion. The test was supposed to last for four days, but when the participants wake up in an abandoned medical facility two months later they realize they are in for an experiment they did not sign up for. As the medical corporation, Gentech, sends in an armed tactical team and gunfire is heard in the distance, the participants fear they are failed lab rats that are about be killed. However, it is not them the corporation is after but a far worse failed experiment instead…

The film comes written by director Alastair Orr and co-writer Jonathan Jordaan and for two guys with limited experience they gave me a fairly unique story despite some typical cliches. There are lots of horror films coming out these days playing on strangers who take on a mysterious offer in hopes of solving some type of financial/life woe (Would You Rather is a recent one), but Expiration gives us more than that. The introduction is awesome, engaging, interesting, scientific, and makes you wonder why the medical corporation’s personnel are armed with M4s for this “experiment”. After waking from their slumber the participants struggle with gaining their senses at first, and every little detail is carefully monitored by the watchful eyes of those on the other side of the many audio/visual cameras positioned throughout the building. The character play keeps us interested and slowly but surely we begin to realize what is going on with the experiment. Each of the participants has a medical condition that plagues them, from a permanent handicap, to smoker’s lungs, to very poor vision, they all have something wrong with them, or…”had”, I should say. Upon gaining their senses they realize that their slumber has resulted in the unbelievable – they have been healed of their ailments. Simply put, they have new bodies as indicated by the lack of previous tattoos and piercings. The horror begins to kick in soon after when the “watchers” take notice to a few survivors of the previous experiment that ended two months prior, survivors that should not still be alive after being at the location without food and water the entire time. A team is sent in to retrieve a certain person that the Gentech corporation deems a high-value target, and things get messy when the agents come across the failed subjects of the previous experiment. Social breakdown within the current participants begins to erupt as they believe they were suckered into a bad deal and the team is there to silence them, and the remainder of the film follows the horrific carnage that ensues. So what IS the horror? Well, basically those who failed the previous experiment suffered an adverse reaction that made them very similar to the rage-virus “infected” from 28 Days Later. I found this a bit cliché after seeing just how unique the film’s first act was, and from then on out things get messy and the film’s faults find the light. Nonetheless the horror is plentiful and there are a several kill scenes for our enjoyment, but once the 50-minute mark hit the story began to lose itself a bit.

Filmed on $70,000 with DSLR cameras and edited on Final Cut Pro, I must highly applaud South African director Alastair Orr for his achievement in giving us a film that looked to be of a higher production value. His execution of the first act is pretty much phenomenal and he secured every ounce of my attention with his atmosphere, location, use of surveillance cameras, and the good-enough performances from his actors. When the horror hits it does hit hard at first, giving us positive execution of the “infected” and the carnage they bring with them, but eventually the infected offer nothing new, become old news, and their portrayal becomes a bit too cliché for my liking. We do experience live-action gore and it comes plentiful sometimes, so that is always a plus to help you deal with and somewhat forget the directing faults.

Ultimately the film boils down to a climax that you do not see coming, although you can at least expect it now that I have made you aware (bummer). Its impact on the story is supreme and it gives the already interesting concept a very unique twist that brings forth a big change to the scheme behind Gemtech’s experiment. It does also answer a few questions that linger throughout the storyline, questions that you soon forget about thanks to everything else going on, so the revelation is a comforting one as well. One thing that really stood about to me was that the direction of this revelation was VERY Saw-esque, from the camerawork, to the shock-value, and even to the simple electronic music playing in the background.

Overall, Expiration is a sometimes positive film that suffers faults that ultimately keep it from being a recommended watch. The story is an interesting one that not only comes with a cool premise but also ends in a horrifically epic fashion, but it does suffer execution and pacing issus that Orr’s direction cannot solve. His direction is fair though and he provides decent horror and engaging atmosphere, but ultimately this is another film that had much potential and should have been better.

Rating: 6/10

…Additional Stills…

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