By Dave B.
The Beyond (2017, currently on Netflix) is a science-fiction movie that takes place in the near-future and is about a wormhole opening in Earth orbit with the story told in documentary format. There’s a global space agency named “Space Agency” that is tasked with discovering what is on the other side of this wormhole and if it poses a threat to humankind. I have to admit, I loved the premise immediately. Unfortunately, there are some glaring mistakes, contradictions, and errors that made me enjoy the film less than I otherwise may have.
One of the best things about the current era of moviemaking is that independent studios can make small-budget movies that look and feel like they were produced by major studios. The Beyond excels at this. No one would mistake it for having a blockbuster budget, but it looks crisp and portrays slightly futuristic technologies in an aesthetically pleasing way. The documentary format was a wise choice, as it makes it easier to empathize with characters in the film. I was also fairly impressed by how the movie took modern technologies and plausibly extrapolated about what direction technology may go in 10 or 20 years from now. And although the ending is slightly confusing and utterly ridiculous, I liked it. It fit with the general tome and theme of the movie as a whole. And hey, it’s science-fiction. It’s a genre where sometimes a lot of creative leeway needs to be given, regardless of scientific accuracy.
However, laziness is not something that should be given leeway and the script of The Beyond is full of it. There are instances where the plot DIRECTLY contradicts something that someone has said. If a character says that a mission must be planned and executed in a week, without fail the character will later say something like “after months of planning, we’re ready to execute the plan”. It’s annoying as hell that the screenwriters have no respect for the concept of time in this movie. Plot holes abound. There are some major issues with the pacing in the middle of the movie, with 20 minutes of the film focusing on one person’s (admittedly difficult) decision on whether or not to have her brain removed from her body and put into a machine. Unfortunately, it’s an EXTREMELY boring section in an otherwise interesting movie. The actions and motivations of characters and institutions are opaque and often nonsensical. And the unexpected misogyny from one of the characters really needs some build-up or some hints or something: It’s thrown into the movie unexpectedly and then never addressed in any way again. It’s unrealistic that an actual documentary would treat something that serious and unexpected in such a casual way.
If I ever had the desire to make a low-budget movie, The Beyond would provide extremely clear examples of what to do and what to avoid. The film contains no middle ground as far as its quality is concerned. The Beyond contains good parts and bad parts and never the twain shall meet. This is a tough decision, but I’m going to recommend The Beyond primarily because I found it so interesting on a conception level. But the movie isn’t “good” in a traditional sense. I’ll conclude with a heartfelt message to any screenwriters or directors: PLEASE put in a little effort into keeping your films internally consistent. A small budget isn’t an excuse for sloppiness.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.