Radius has been inspired by The Twilight Zone but it pales in comparison; sometimes, even literally.
Like all science fiction, Radius starts with an intriguing premise. Liam (Diego Klattenhoff of TV’s Homeland) awakens from a car accident with no memory. Anybody he approaches for help goes limp and suddenly dies. When passing animals also start dying, he starts putting the pieces together – anything breathing that comes near him – a 50-foot radius to be exact – dies. The predicament becomes even more confusing when a distressful woman (Charlotte Sullivan of TV’s Rookie Blue) meets him and explains she was in the same accident as Liam. More questions arise when Liam’s curse is lifted when the woman is present.
The two search for answers across the barren countryside, as directors Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard tell their story using a somber self-written script and faded image filters over Simon Villeneuve’s otherwise competent cinematography. Each death that Liam causes is greeted with an extremely upset reaction from him or from a devastated bystander before they die as well. It doesn’t take long for the audience to realize that Radius is a lot heavier than it needs to be.
I appreciated how Labrèche and Léonard were treating the genre with serious respect, but would it have killed them to lighten up? Whether science fiction is being used to satirize or create a completely alternate reality, there has to be a level of engaging escapism. Most filmmakers translate that as “popcorn entertainment”, but when directors decide to be gloomier with their presentation, it’s important for the innovation to maintain its accessibility (2004’s underrated The Butterfly Effect, is a good example, or any recent episodes of Netflix’s Black Mirror).
Radius is in its true element when it’s problem-solving and figuring out alternative ways for Liam and his partner to spare casualties while solving their own mystery. As soon as Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard shift their focus to the effects of their supernatural situation, they pretentiously steep their film in unpleasantness and create an overwhelmingly depressing experience.
The film’s dismal ending is the final nail in the coffin – again, literally.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie