woermDirector: Kier Burrows

Writer: Kier Burrows

Starring: Yaiza Figueroa, Tom Barber-Duffy, Philippa Carson, Noah Maxwell Clarke, Yolanda Vazquez, James Farrar

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for anything that looks like a half-decent science fiction movie, so of course I made a point of catching Worm at this year’s Raindance festival.

Worm is a is a neo-noir, sci-fi feature written and directed by Kier Burrows. His award-winning screenplay tells the story of Oxford PhD student Ana (Yaiza Figueroa) who, researching into physics which gets increasingly quantum, stumbles across what appears to be a method of creating a wormhole.

Enlisting the help of her colleague and long-time admirer Nate and shady hacker-scientist Liv, the trio secretly develop a wormhole generator big enough to teleport a person. As the authorities close in on their illicit research they must make some final tests before they are ready to spring their revolutionary invention upon a grateful world. They must pass a whole, living human through the wormhole – they draw straws and Ana finds she is the one fated to pass through.

The next thing that happens is that Ana wakes up in her bed after the experiment, ill and disoriented. It quickly becomes clear something has gone wrong: she cannot remember anything. She seems to have lost track of time.

Her so-conspirators Nate and Liv appear distant, then openly hostile. Ana suspects they may be plotting to keep the truth from her so that they can take credit for the project for themselves. People tell her of things that she has done that she has no memory of – her flat is broken into by a masked intruder and her papers are stolen – she finds she is being watched by government officials. Ana is frustrated by her inability to fully remember any clues but is determined to unravel what has happened to her.

Although she is unable to create new memories, Ana is still equipped with a superior intellect. She sets about finding her own way to the truth, piecing together the mystery (in an intriguingly Memento-esque manner).

The film comes to a startling and dramatic conclusion, as through many gripping disclosures, Ana finally discovers the secret behind the result of the experiment and her memory loss.
Personally, I was mightily impressed with Worm. It’s a darn sight cleverer than many mainstream science-fiction offerings. I’d bet that even Chris Nolan would respect its well-crafted plotting. The movie manages to intertwine an absorbing story-arc with flashbacks and dream sequences, and offers us engaging characters with a decent script.

Worm is entertaining and intellectually stimulating, with several sequences which are genuinely thrilling or eerie. In the lead role Yaiza Figueroa manages to veer between confidence in her abilities, paranoia and heart-breaking isolation. (She is also feisty enough to clobber and give chase to intruders).

The film’s technical elements belie its micro-budget and show that with a gripping story, a few properly developed characters, some scientific research and enough visual panache, one doesn’t need big bucks and CGI to make a science-fiction movie that’s worth seeing and which can present us with some pretty morally ambiguous questions about the future of scientific discovery.
From the Director, Kier Burrows:

“Worm is a fast, dramatic and accessible sci-fi thriller. Written for a micro-budget, it draws its momentum from tense dialogue and a noir-ish plot that should have the audience trying to solve the crime as Ana does. It uses locations carefully to help advance the story, with scope for creative production design as the wormhole generator is built out of scrap and circuitry.

In keeping with its film noir trappings, we will use darkness to effect, creating suspense out of what isn’t seen. The film will be classically shot, carefully composed frames using shallow depth of field. Music plays an important role in the film; we will use a mix of symphonic and electronic score to create a dark, tense mood that will help propel the narrative.”

Keir Burrows is an award-winning writer, director and producer. His film, The Showreel (2014) premiered at the BFI London Film Festival and won at Cambridge Film Festival.

Both his previous films (Donkey, 2011, and Grace, 2012) opened at Tribeca. Together his films have won over a dozen Best Film, Screenplay or Director awards. I for one will be keeping an eye on what Keir Burrows is going to go next – hopefully it may be somewhere we’ve never been before.
Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2016 All rights reserved.