The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Laszlo Kovacs and Andrew Hookway
Directors: Laszlo Kovacs and Andrew Hookway
A Film by Laszlo Kovacs and Andrew Hookway
Review by Jeani Rector
How does one make a film about the year 2106 on a really small budget? Filmmakers Laszlo Kovacs and Andrew Hookway came up with a brilliant solution: inventing a war that occurred many years earlier which wiped out technology and therefore doesn’t require money to be spent on futuristic props and gizmos. The film purposefully shows clunky, monochrome computers from the early 1990s and telephones from the 1980s, even though the script takes place in the future. The war left only the old stuff behind.
Except, of course, for the cyborgs. They are still here, lots of them!
Abstract Messiah is a sequel to the 2006 short film, UCF: Toronto Cybercide. Abstract Messiah takes place in what is called The Greater Toronto Republic, yet it seems that in 2106, Canada is merged with the United States since they keep referring to their territory as “America.” The world is slowly rebuilding from a near-apocalyptic breakdown in human society caused by the global crash of cybernetic systems. The Toronto Republic is growing in political and social unrest due to rising crime among cybernetically enhanced citizens, with only the police keeping a thin margin of order.
The police force consists of a lot of extras, but the main stars are the two detective partners, Andrew Hookway as Jazz Johnson and Lisa Dee as Nagmi Tsiu. Johnson and Tsiu try to stop Enoch Chrom, the cybernetics-hating Luddite, from attacking one of the city's largest cybernetic prisons. Enoch Chrom is played by Timothy Dugan, who is the “Messiah” of the film’s name and a religious extremist.
The acting standout in Abstract Messiah is Andrew Hookway. As Detective Johnson, Hookway’s acting is very convincing and his talents shine in this film. Wisely, most of the film’s character development revolves around Hookway’s character, and the viewer gets to know and to like him. We all need a character to root for, and in Abstract Messiah, Hookway is it.
Another plus is the location. Most of the movie is filmed in an old warehouse-prison, giving a dark, creepy feel to the scenes. It is here where Abstract Messiah most closely resembles bigger-budget films and there is a lot of action going on, including fights between good and evil. The suspense is satisfying and it is particularly effective when you can see the fire-blasts from the weapons in the dark cavernous building.
If there is an issue with Abstract Messiah, it is that it over-reaches its capabilities with too many main characters, and lots of extras have speaking roles when they shouldn’t. This makes it difficult to follow the plot-line at times because of the distraction of keeping track of who is who. And Abstract Messiah could have benefitted from more music during the scenes; still, this is a small matter considering the adrenaline rush this film can inspire.
Because of the adrenaline rush, it might be said that Abstract Messiah is an entertaining slice of summer escapism. But it is not just mindless fun, because the viewer needs to pay attention to understand the significance of the plot as it unfolds. There are references to chess games in this film and the plot involves strategy. It keeps the viewer absorbed on an intellectual level as well as on an entertainment one.
There is the possibility of another film to follow this one, creating a trilogy. If so, it would be a welcome addition.
Overall, Abstract Messiah is a movie that apocalypse-lovers and sci-fi fans would enjoy. There are no “formula” love scenes, but there are plenty of fights, quests for power and leadership, and best of all, lots of cyborgs.
See the movie here:
About the Filmmakers
Finding himself walking the line between fantasy and fact, Laszlo Kovacs has begun to find his to find his profession and his pastimes overlapping in interesting ways. Vocationally, Laszlo has been a security services professional for over a decade and currently works as a Threat and Risk Assessment consultant for the Government of Canada.
What began as a hobby, then quickly grew to a passion, is the world building behind film making. Beginning on film projects produced in the bad old days of VHS-C, he has since dove to the digital age, more often than not winding up in the co-director’s chair assisting with low plot/high action fan films as well as consulting on the writing and action choreography for other production teams. With a drive to create original content, Laszlo invited colleagues from past successful film, writing and game design projects to found to found an open source, transnational association called the Key Pixel Gathering of Film Makers.
The Key Pixel’s motto is “Commitment to Awesome.”
Taking advantage of the assembled talent, he wrote the screenplay for and set in motion the production of the post-cyberpunk thriller UCF: Toronto Cybercide as the group’s flagship title. Several short film projects followed, with Laszlo producing works varying between the John Woo homage Instability and C/Punk/Doc, the cyberpunk documentary. Most recently, Laszlo has written and directed the next chapter in the ”UCF” series Abstract Messiah, as well as produced the associated viral videos Subject Papa Alpha X-Ray and UCF: The Bridge.
For more information on Laszlo and Key Pixel, visit their website at Key-Pixel.com.
Andrew Hookway has been into filming since late 2002, and truly began in early 2004 with a digital still camera using MPEG recording. From these humble beginnings, he emerged as a creative writer, an intuitive eye behind a camera, and an ingenious editor. He made a lasting connection with Justin Monk in August of 2004, and the two have since worked on numerous projects together, bringing more and more people into what would become Key Pixel, being instrumental in its conception and growth.
In addition to various supporting roles on projects brought forth by other team members, Andrew spearheaded the car chase short film Control, did visual effects on the feature-length fanfilm Stargate Hades, and most recently led the entire post-production team on 2011's Abstract Messiah. His cooperative spirit and innovativeness have helped create Key Pixel's unique workflow and set the team up for many successful films.
About the Reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, Story Mania, Lost Souls, All Destiny, and many others. Her novel Around a Dark Corner was released in the USA on Graveyard Press in 2009.