Prospect is a new film written and directed by Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl from their short of the same name. It is about a teenage girl that travels to a remote moon with her father to prospect for rare gems, only for things to go south when they encounter a dangerous stranger in the woods.
Oddly enough, this movie’s biggest strength and biggest weakness are perhaps the same thing. This is a very ambitious science fiction film, especially given that it is independent. This ambition comes in the form of complex world-building and mythology. On one hand, this is wildly intriguing, with some of the ideas the story presents being thoroughly interesting. On the other hand, a lot of stuff is left unexplained, and as such, creates unresolved tension.
There are quite a few moments in the movie that are effectively suspenseful, but the most suspenseful moments ended up fizzling out, which was often disappointing. Instead, the film relied on shock value and sudden twists to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Sometimes this worked — a few scenes being particularly disturbing — other times, it failed to keep interest.
The movie also suffers from a lack of character development. The protagonist has a generic backstory, although she comes to her own over the course of the film. Her father is perhaps the most interesting character, the best scene being when he goes on a nostalgia trip that reveals quite a bit about his character. The mysterious stranger character is, well, mysterious. There isn’t a whole lot of development to be done for him.
That being said, the movie does some things extremely well. There are a few scenes that were unexpectedly absolutely captivating. The mining scenes are oddly interesting. They are hard to describe and something you’ll have to see for yourself to understand their appeal. Somehow, they are cool, weird, and disturbing — all at the same time.
The cast also does a great job in the film. Sophie Thatcher does a great job in her leading role. She is likable and strong, having a commanding presence throughout. Jay Duplass is very good in his supporting role, a dramatic turn. He does a great job of adding emotion and realism to a surreal movie. The true standout, though, is Pedro Pascal. Pascal’s performance is fantastic and haunting, making the character all the more menacing and effective.
Additionally, the film’s visuals were very good. The cinematography is nice, with some great framing and movements. The lighting and color scheme are a bit unusual, although they give the movie an old-timey western feel that works pretty well. The film also has some good CGI, especially that used to craft the futuristic world.
Overall, Prospect is an ambitious sci-fi movie, but that ambition didn’t always pay off. That being said, it has some great scenes and a wonderful cast. It is definitely worth a shot.
Prospect is now playing in select theaters and expands November 9.