Hostile Dimensions

Director: Graham Hughes

Writer: Graham Hughes

Cast: Joma West, Annabel Logan, Paddy Kondracki, Josie Rogers, Graham Hughes

Producers: Evrim Esroy, Graham Hughes

Music: Marc Hayward, Stanley TwoBricks

Editor: Graham Hughes

Cert: 15 (TBC)

Running time: 80mins

Year: 2023

What’s the story: While investigating the disappearance of graffiti artist Emily (Rogers), Ash (West) and Sam (Logan) discover a doorway that leads to other dimensions. Dimensions that are not always friendly.

What’s the verdict: Toward the end of Graham Hughes’ latest feature, a character opines, “You do not know existential pain… until you have produced a film.” If this is true, whatever discomfort the filmmakers felt was kept strictly off-camera.

Like Hughes’ fiendishly fun 2019 puzzle box movie Death of a Vlogger, Hostile Dimensions is a sharp, pacy, inventive mockumentary horror. If it does not quite reach the heights of …Vlogger, it remains proof that astronomical budgets cannot match talent and imagination.

The basic plot is intriguing enough, and Hughes wastes no time introducing the non-human star of his movie: that door. An undervalued horror prop, a closed door is a potent visual. But the director doesn’t cheat the audience, flinging it open to visualise other worlds. With a visual FX panache belying his low budget.

Around the object Hughes (who wrote, edited, produced, directed and stars in the film, as he did with Vlogger) creates a tapestry of conspiracy and imagined history. All of which makes the film feel bigger than it is, even as it slyly acknowledges its own outlandishness. Best summed up by Paddy Kondracki’s kind-of physicist-philosopher Innis, whose half-heartedness in his own multiverse lectures turns to giddy excitement when confronted with the real thing.

Kondracki and co-stars Annabel Logan and Joma West are all …Vlogger alumni, and bring the same natural energy and charm to their roles here. Where the film falls short of its predecessor is in how tightly it weaves together its various plot strands. Despite running 80-minutes there is the feeling a little more could have been excised, particularly when the film approaches Act Three. A subplot about loss and regret doesn’t carry the intended heft, leaving a late-in-the-day emotional crescendo landing a little flat (and curiously echoing the climax to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny).

But it seems unfair to criticise when there is so much gold here. Despite limited resources Hughes and co. conjure genuine laughs and chills, plus a moment of awe. An alternate-reality fun park is an early creep-out, while the climax proves there is life in the old Blair Witch aesthetic yet. A third-act plot twist is guessable only seconds before it is revealed (unless you study the film’s IMdb page, we recommend not looking too hard until you’ve seen the movie).

Hughes demonstrates a flair for action cinema alongside horror movie shudders. A climactic chase scene through multiple portals is a low-budget approximation of the climax to Monsters, Inc. Or a glimpse at what Christopher Nolan would have done if Inception had been his first film rather than Following. Cheeky movie refs pepper the movie. That door is framed in clear homage to the monolith from 2001, while, as in Jaws, yellow denotes danger…

Another winner from Hughes and his gang then. If there is any justice to this dimension of ours, someone from Blumhouse will come calling soon.

Rob Daniel
Twitter: rob_a_Daniel
Letterboxd: RobDan
Podcast: The Movie Robcast

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