Pandorica is an extremely low-budget film that looks like it cost a lot more; setting a new standard for all filmmakers.
Prior to seeing Pandorica as part of it’s limited cinematic run, it was a film I knew almost nothing about. Having worked with one of the actresses and being a keen supporter of Indie film, when I heard about the screening I decided to go along and this was definitely the right decision.
For just £77,000 (that’s about 200 times less than the similarly post-apocalyptic Mad Max Fury Road), Pandorica presents to the audience a future where mankind has been forced back to its tribal routes after an unknown event known as ‘The Great Reset’. This happened many generations ago and in the film we follow three young members of the Varosha tribe as they head into the woods to decide who will become the new leader. They have no idea what to expect from the dangers or the night and must work together to fight off various perils.
Before the film began the director Tom Paton gave a short speech in which he cited John Carpenter as a key influence and as soon as the credits roll this is obvious. The film opens with expansive aerial shots of a forest (made cheaply with a drone camera) and a score reminiscent of The Thing (1982).
From this point the film moves forward at a fast pace as it allows the beautiful cinematography and wonderfully crafted design to bring the story to life. It is a great film to watch led by a cast who all perform soundly, the standout being Bentley Kalu in a short villainous cameo as the character ‘9’. This performances adds a surprising amount of tension and depth to the final act of the film.
Despite its amazing look, intriguing scenario and solid performances the film does suffer from the pitfalls of its budget. Post-apocalyptic/tribal cinema such as this will always be judged on the quality of its action sequences, as after all fighting is the most basic human defence. Sadly in the film these scenes disappoint as the actions scenes are restricted, brief and often too dark. As entertaining as the film is, I just felt it needed more gore. Every-time the excitement for a scene was built up it crashed down too fast leaving a huge sense of a missed chance and mixed levels of satisfaction.
On the whole then Pandorica proves that ridiculously low-budget films can challenge high-budget cinema in terms of technical finesse and entertainment value. Compare it against ninety per-cent of the big Blockbuster films and it will stand up admirably. Unfortunately it misses that magical spark that could turn it from good cinema to great, but I’m sure that by following its pattern other filmmakers can find this.
Either way it shows that Indie feature films live on and can gain an audience.