Terminus film review: Close Encounters meets Cocoon

Classic sci-fi is homaged in Australian-set thriller Terminus

Terminus

Terminus may initially beat to the same dystopian drum as some recent unnamed sci-fi (albeit on a far smaller scale), but what it lacks in narrative originality it makes up for in carefully developed character introspection and pleasingly old-school aesthetics.

Marc Furmie’s feature film debut follows widowed dependable David Chamberlain (Jai Koutrae), a small-town mechanic with a drinking problem and a feisty young daughter (Kendra Appleton).

Times are tough, with the world on the brink of depressing (self) destruction and a political war orchestrated to distract the masses. After a drunken evening while driving, Chamberlain witnesses a meteor in the sky – the flaming mass of which causes him to crash.

The encased organism heals our hero’s wounds and somehow passes knowledge regarding what to do for protection against the inevitable global nuclear blast. Soon, Chamberlain is building a protective capsule in his backyard and miraculously helping ex-war vet Zach (clean-cut Todd Lasance from Spartacus: War Of The Damned) to fully recover from his debilitating leg injuries.

A touch of Close Encounters here, a pinch of Cocoon there…Terminus borrows from the best with pleasingly unpretentious practical FX and turns from a committed world-weary supporting cast who pull proceedings off convincingly.

Even more impressively, despite the decidedly American-look, (the film is set in America’s mid-west) this is a low budget Aussie production filmed entirely in Sydney with a predominantly Australian cast. But you wouldn’t know it from the sleek, expensive-looking results, which completely belies its budget.

If there’s a downside to all this it’s the increasingly predictable inevitability of it all. You can second-guess the conclusion a mile off while there are few too many surprises in store.

However, go in with mild expectations and great nostalgia for old school science fiction cinema and you won’t be disappointed with Terminus.