With outings at last year’s London Film Festival and its exultant reception at SXSW, writer/director Alex Taylor’s feature length debut, Spaceship, is obviously very close to his heart. A journey of a neon psychedelic haze of teenage confusion of the unconventional kind, Taylor’s coming of age story kicks the selfie-loving social media crazy teenage population to one side to give those classed as outsiders their time in the spotlight. Along with unicorns and black holes.
Somewhat experimental, the outcry of attention-seeking and a longing to find where these weird cluster of teenagers belong in this world lay heavy on the narrative. It is a fresh, fragmented flurry which flits between a father frantically looking for his missing daughter whilst being sucked into the abyss of her friends’ bizarre, out of this world, mist of delirium. Thrown in for good measure, Taylor uses clips from his own research of a Goth teenager to add depth and meaning to this world of teenage angst.
The narrative focuses on the disappearance of teenage outcast Lucidia (Alex Davies), the daughter of Gabriel (Antti Reini), an archaeologist who has struggled with life since the passing of his wife and Lucidia’s mother. Throwing himself into his work meant that his relationship with his daughter has suffered. Lucidia and her group of friends have a love of the alternative, from unicorns to playing a dominatrix but it is Lucidia’s obsession with aliens which plays a major component in her sudden disappearance. Immersed in the suggestion she was abducted by aliens with the appearance of bright lights and an eerie mist right in front of her boyfriend’s eyes, it’s left to the audience to determine whether this could all be just a dream-like sequence, a fake abduction or whether it really did happen.
As her friends try to figure out for themselves what happened to her, we are given a character by character study in a number of fragmented scenes that don’t follow any strict structure or sequence. The plot doesn’t flow as a smooth river but is broken by estuaries of diversionary tactics which could be interpreted as a drug-infused haze even without the very suggestion of a pill or joint in sight. Each scene could be viewed as their own short film of discovery woven together by Gabriel’s frantic search for his daughter all whilst building a rather odd relationship with one of Lucidia’s friends Tegan, played by Born To Kill’s Lara Peake.
From a man raving in a cave to two random squaddies going about their business in the town, It’s the use of the disjointed structure that makes Spaceship so effective along with the use of slow-motion sequences and psychedelic pallor in a party scene which acts as the crescendo to the production that add weight to the intriguing ideas at play.
Distorted and disorientating, Taylor’s Spaceship takes more than one watch to fully appreciate the craftsmanship of his debut feature. It is a far cry from the Hollywood teen coming of age story and this is a refreshing and ambitious take on the unheard voices of those teenagers, shunned in an unforgiving and unaccepting society.
Spaceship is released May 19th