Radius (2017)

(On Cable TV, April 2018) I’ve been watching so many high-budget movies (both new and old) lately that I had almost forgotten the particular pleasures of ingenious low-budget films. The small discoveries best exemplified by Canadian production Radius, for instance: An intriguing premise that makes the most of a limited budget in featuring unknown actors, next-door settings, an intriguing mystery and a premise that seeks to make the most out of its concept. The subject matter is grim enough that the film doesn’t exactly qualify as fun (an amnesiac discovers that everything that comes within a small radius of him dies instantly, except for a mysterious woman able to neutralize this effect), but there is an undeniable pleasure in seeing the film gradually illustrate then explore the consequences of its premise. As is tradition, the setup is quite a bit better than its resolution—by the time we’re down to the answers, a great deal of the infinite possibilities of the film’s first half-hour has evaporated to one single story, and it’s not quite as good as anything we may have imagined. Revealing an extraordinary secret about the characters also means robbing the film of its everyday man quality, to its detriment. The ending also takes the easy way out in addressing the problem, cutting off a number of grander-scope possibilities. Still, there’s no denying the ingeniousness of the low-budget approach (being Canadian watching a film shot in Manitoba means recognizing very familiar house styles and small-town settings) as well as some particularly well designed set pieces, such as the hospital sequence in which the characters have to surpass themselves not to be too far from each other. Radius isn’t a great film, but it does make for relatively entertaining genre material and a further entry in the “clever Canadian SF&F” ledger. 

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