Fantasia Festival Report: Sigma
Our last few Fantasia reviews are still trickling in ... here's Zane Spurvey on the shot-on-a-shoestring Canadian cyberpunk thriller Sigma.
A clear demonstration of his promise and abilities, writer/director Jesse Heffring has crafted an impressive piece of cyberpunk suspense with Sigma.
Set in a not-too-distant future, the film chronicles thirty six frantic hours in the life of a young doctor named Adam Lemay (played by Colin Walsh). The film begins with a strange, babbling stranger approaches Adam and, just before offing himself, handing Adam a video monitor depicting Adam's wife, trapped and helpless in a small chamber. A nearby phone rings, and a strange demonic voice directs Adam to do its bidding if he desires to save the life of his wife.
This is the basic premise on which the film bases itself, and it follows Adam through a seemingly endless series of tasks as he follows the will of this disembodied voice in a desperate bid to preserve his wife's life. These tasks take him through back alley surgeries, identity theft, and much more, and each successive task has a more sophisticated piece of technology as its goal.
As the conspiracy is revealed, it becomes apparent that there is much more at stake than a young doctor and his wife. This is a much larger scenario, involving many helpless people in the same situation as Adam and his wife, and all are converging towards some specific, unknown purpose. What this purpose is is ultimately surprising (hint: it's not a bomb), involving nanotechnology and leading quite possibly to the end of the world.
The premise and execution of this film calls to mind a diversity of sources, such as Phone Booth, Cellular, and 24. The simple and somewhat unoriginal premise hardly breaks any new ground, and the plot offers pretty standard cyberpunk fare in the end. Nonetheless, I was never once bored; the director expertly manages to milk the simple premise into frantic and suspenseful experience. This film allegedly took two full years to edit, and it shows; using multiple angles and swift camera changes the director conveys Adam Lemay's desperate struggle for his wife, and creates as much tension in the viewer as the viewer sees in Adam. With this film, Jesse Heffring present a good indication that he's fit to move on to bigger--and possibly even better--things.
Review by Zane Spurvey.