Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
Back in 2016 when I was still doing trailer reviews I reviewed the trailer for Trinidadian Sci Fi feature Tomb. I thought it looked pretty cool (science fiction and Caribbean film are two of my great loves, so no surprise there) and, seeing that a feature length local Sci Fi film is practically unheard of, I was looking forward to seeing it. But I never did get an opportunity in the past six years. That is until today when I caught it on Caribbean streaming service Pavilion+. And you know what, it is a pretty cool, though very strange and trippy film.
Tomb, written, directed and produced by Nick Attin who also did the cinematography, is set in the year 2025 when several nations have banded together for the largest expedition into the furthest regions of deep space. Even little old Trinidad and Tobago are getting into the action, with Commander Nelson Obatala (Kearn Samuel) and Commander Charles Mercer (Gregory Pollonais) two astronauts joining the expedition on the vessels the Humming Bird and the Scarlet Ibis (how cute and patriotic). When Mercer sends out a cryptic distress call it is up to Obatala to rescue him. But what he discovers is beyond comprehension. To go more into the plot would cross into spoiler territory, and I’m keeping this one spoiler free.
I suspect Attin is a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey because this film reminded me a lot of that science fiction masterpiece. You have the very cerebral subject matter, a talking AI assistant (here it is M.I.L.O., not HAL 9000), visuals that make you feel like you are tripping on acid (I have never taken acid personally, but I have read that is what it is like), and a journey into a realm that strains human comprehension. Though I noticed those similarities, Tomb is very much is its own film and goes in a much different direction. The plot (which, again, I won’t go into) is a very complex one. And while I feel it may be too heavy for some viewers it inspired me to rewatch the movie to understand it a bit better. And I dig when films do that to me.
Something else that may turn off casual viewers is the pacing. Yeah, Tomb is in no rush to tell its story and is quite deliberate, even plodding at times. My wife got bored after ten minutes and went about her business. But I stuck with it and I found my patience paid off, with the third act being the most entertaining of the film. Before that we do have some scenes that go on too long and it felt like a mix of padding and indulgence. The visual effects are not bad for a local film though the blurry camera effect in several scenes did start to wear on my nerves after awhile. We get it, it’s all dreamy, you can stop now. Some of the scenes were quite beautiful though, with a mysterious woman standing in front of a large planet on a beach being one of the standouts.
On the acting, Samuel, no stranger to local film, was his usual solid self and Conrad Parris, a veteran of stage of screen, gave a phenomenal performance as a mysterious, white-clothed character. Rounding off the three leads was Pollonais, who I found somewhat flat and unengaging. And my friend, the late great Chris Smith, puts in a cameo as the Prime Minister and plays the role with exuberance.
I have to praise Attin for the sheer audacity of this film. I can tell he had a vision and he just went for it, as wild as it was. I don’t think the casual Trini audience was ready for it in 2016. Heck, I’m not sure if they are ready for it even now. But I appreciated it and I think the film will get more love and duly reserved recognition as time passes.
Editor Jules’s Score: 7 out of 10
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.
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