Sep 1, 2009

Jetsam [15]

Dir: Simon Welsford
Made in 14 days, for £2500, Jetsam looks like it was made… in 14 days, for £2500.

Bad films come in all shapes and sizes and this year they’ve ranged from the colossal turd that was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to this extremely low budget British ‘thriller’. Jetsam does actually start rather intriguingly. In a silent opening sequence we meet a young woman (Alex Reid), washed up on a beach with a USB stick in her pocket and seemingly no idea why she’s there.  Then we watch as she stumbles across a man who has also washed up unconscious, she wakes him up and he immediately chases her, seemingly wanting to kill her.

That’s a great start. It poses all sorts of fascinating questions. Sadly the film then proceeds to answer those questions in a way that is both unspeakably boring and hilariously implausible. Saying much about Jetsam’s story would risk spoiling the film, but it’s about industrial espionage and as befits a thriller with that subject it’s a twisty narrative. That twist is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a cinema this year, because it is so totally unbelievable, both at script and performance level.

The film hinges on Reid’s character, her relationships and her job; to spy Macaninch and his girlfriend MacDonald. The problem is that neither script nor performances give us a way in to these people and their lives, so the idea at the heart of the film, as well as being so well worked over that it would have been old hat in a 1940’s Hitchcock movie, never remotely convinces. Alex Reid, who was in The Descent with co-star MacDonald, is a blank slate. Her unchanging expression leads us through the film like a blindfolded guide leading a hike through the mountains - always hesitant, with little idea what she’s doing or where she’s going. Jetsam may be a rather minimalist film, but Reid’s acting is minimal to the point of not being there at all. The others aren’t bad, Cal Macaninch and Shauna MacDonald might have been able to do something interesting if the script weren’t monumentally awful.

Everything that might have worked is undone by writer/director Simon Welsford.  While it’s an achievement to get a film together for £2500 it would still be nice if the final product looked somewhat professional, after all, cheaper films have managed it in the past. Sadly the technical side of things is just awful. The film is drenched in grain, artifact heavy and very poorly lit. Perhaps the funniest technical failing is the fake blood, which is a vivid shade of pink.

There is nothing to see here. Jetsam is poorly written, acted and made, it should just be allowed to drift away, like the discarded rubbish it is named for.

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