THE SCOPIA EFFECT (2014)
Written and directed by Christopher Butler
A young Polish woman named Basia struggles to cope with life, often reminded of the loss of her mother who committed suicide when she was just a girl. Her therapist advises that she should deal with the traumas from her past by undergoing hypnotic regression but by unearthing the past, Basia’s becomes haunted by disturbing visions of past lives in the present. Struggling to differentiate from these visions and reality, Basia must fight for her sanity.
Sci-Fi thriller THE SCOPIA EFFECT from writer/director Christopher Butler is an exploration in reincarnation and what happens when a character unlocks not only her past but her past lives and the effect it has on her present life. The mental breakdown of lead character Basia is not a pretty one, but is realistic in its approach, particularly how at first the visions are rare before becoming so frequent and intense that its hard to distinguish what is reality and what isn’t, like a never-ending nightmare.
THE SCOPIA EFFECT is quite a beautifully shot movie. Slick and visually impressive, the movie whisks the viewer to the various places in Basia’s visions, as if we were experiencing them ourselves. From overlooking the scenary in Japan to being forced to watch the man you love burned before your very eyes in India, each setting is an emotional journey for both Basia and the viewer. Director Christopher Butler and his team have done a tremendous job in creating these scenes with specific lighting, sound, wardrobe and actors to fulfill their ideas for the visions which Basia is plagued by.
Though I understood where the film was heading, THE SCOPIA EFFECT is more of an interpretive piece with a loose narrative. It likens itself to the works of David Lynch but I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Lynch’s work. I prefer more story-driven films or solid character pieces and this is neither. Whilst THE SCOPIA EFFECT flows in its own style, its sudden cuts to different time periods or locations can be jarring and incoherent. I found myself struggling to keep an interest in the movie, especially due to its structure, with a pace that plodded and made little sense at times. Even a strong performance from Joanna Ignaczewska as Basia isn’t enough to keep up the momentum, and like the character, I too felt like I was losing my mind during the experience.
THE SCOPIA EFFECT isn’t short of quirkiness and whilst not terrifying in a horror sense, there’s some pretty disturbing, surreal visuals that will give you a fright. These peculiar experiences and the visions from Basia’s previous lives are the moments when the film truly shines.
Overall, THE SCOPIA EFFECT isn’t one of those movies you can sit back and ‘enjoy’ like you would a traditionally structured film. This is more of an experience or art-house style that would mostly suit fans of that genre. There’s plenty to admire about this movie from a filmmaking perspective but as a viewer looking for a strong narrative, I was left a little cold.