Don’t be fooled by the IMDB synopsis – Orion is everything but a post-apocalyptical sci-fi film. The second feature of director Asiel Norton, who got some cult acclaim in 2009 with Redland, is definitely in the realm of art-house fantasy, a wet dream for those who are craving a poor man’s Aronofsky’s The Fountain, all shot on a banana, and directed by another clueless piece of fruit.
The Hunter (David Arquette, here making his mortgage payments) spends his days at The Rust (Detroit before the bulldozers), but one day he stumbles upon The Virgin (Lily Cole) who just gave birth (something that virgins appear to be doing more and more in the last 2017 years) and is being kept captive by definitely evil Magus (Goran Kostic). There’s some kind of prophecy that says The Hunter will become the Saviour of Humanity (aka Orion), but only after rescuing The Virgin (and having several dreams about her naked self) and finding the last traces of human life in the world (not before, of course, the usual War is Bad video montage).
If this sounds confusing, don’t be scared – the whole story will be told to you several times, by Tarot related intertitles and, of course, just at the start of the film. After all, Norton does not seem to want something minor like storytelling interfere with his directorial vision and style, prepping these two elements to their full crap potential. And not the so-crap-it-becomes-funny kind. The cinematography is close to dreadful, with an insistent vignette and random flares; the editing will make lesser people puke; and the general staging consists of constant close-ups which makes us 1. want to outlaw close-ups once and forever and 2. think the cameraman was paid according to how close he could get to the actor’s face pores. Add to this already hard to swallow mix constant biblical references, a voice-over that makes no sense but that is clearly trying to appear mystical (note: it isn’t), “avantgarde” (ie out of tune) clarinets on the soundtrack, and the shakiest camera since someone dropped a filming phone down the stairs and voilá, a film that could have been something at least enjoyable is just a pretentious rat in the room, trying to pass for an elephant.
It’s not all bad, though; the set and costume design are great (the few times the camera allows us to see them, that is), the actors try their best (special reference for Maren Lord as The Fool, the most interesting of the bunch), and it’s all over after almost two hours. It goes to show that a good art-house film is not that easy to do – but Orion could have at least tried…
Orion was at the 2016 Raindance Film Festival and does not have an UK release date yet. For more information please check http://www.orionfeature.com