Saturday, June 12, 2021

Gaia - Movie Review

The Movie: Gaia

The Director: Jaco Bouwer

The Cast: Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk, Anthony Oseyemi

The Story: An injured forest ranger on a routine mission is saved by two off-the-grid survivalists. What is initially a welcome rescue grows more suspicious as the son and his renegade father reveal a cultish devotion to the forest.  When their cabin is attacked by a strange being it’s clear there is a far greater threat in this unrelenting wilderness.

The Review:
Ecological horror is a very interesting sub genre especially when it comes from a first time director who is a well established artist in many mediums with a focus on installations that come with powerful commentary and messaging. Jaco Bouwer channels all of that artistic energy and pours it into creating a simmering story that is layered into a lush, beautifully filmed movie that is both thought provoking and kind of terrifying when you really sink your brain into the messaging.

The number one highlight for me with this movie is the work put in by both the director and Jorrie van der Walt, the cinematographer as very moment on screen looks like a work of art. The level of detail in visuals and color and shading adds so much to the energy of the story and equally matches the quiet moments as well as scenes that are filled with tension and danger. You don't always get to see this level of visual storytelling within the horror genres as there is usually more of a focus on setting up queues for jump scares or overall mood.

The performances in the film are also key to the story working as well as it does with Monique Rockman leading the way as a forest ranger who has her entire world turned upside down and you can see her character's struggles and transformations every step of the way. The one thing I will say that I didn't like about the movie is that, even at a relatively slim 96 minutes run time, it still felt long although I don't know what I would have cut out. A bit more experience from the director could have made the story a bit more engaging throughout but that's really just a small complaint, nothing majot.

The Verdict:
Gaia is an effective ecological horror movie anchored by stunning visuals and a strong performance from Monique Rockman. Genre fans definitely give this one a shot.

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