The Subjects

What if you could swallow a pill and gain a superpower? What if a pharmaceutical company developed said pill and decided to run trials or something that more represents a social experiment? What if you were offered $800- to be locked in a room for eight hours and to swallow one pill and you have no idea in the world what will happen? Here in lies the social experiment that is THE SUBJECTS, an independent low budget Australian anti-superhero movie. It has been released independently by Melbourne writer and director Robert Mond. It is now currently available on multiple VOD platforms; Vimeo, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 80mins.

 

The Subjects Movie Poster image
The Subjects | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster image

 

BY JASON KING

Director Robert Mond is a geeky short film maker, he got some attention in some U.S. short film festivals and headed overseas for one of them, while he was there he decided to attend Comic-Con and while there he did what any geek would do and lost his shit in excitement, but not only this, he questioned and talked to everyone to learn and to see what he could do next. He came up with the plan to shoot a feature and then he had some kind of geeked out epiphany of stupidity and decided to make a science fiction, superhero movie with no budget.

When I was asked to review the film I was very ambivalent because on one hand I knew it was going to be a B-grade low budget science fiction and on the other hand it was science fiction (my favourite genre), and if we throw a third hand in the mix, the trailer looked promising. Well his stupidity paid off and Mond has created a B-grade science fiction superhero movie with next to no budget that is so much better than I was expecting, the concept is brilliant and saved heaps of money shooting it in one room and the social experiment, while not fully explored, is intelligent and I was hooked.

 

The Subjects Movie image
The Subjects | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | The Subjects

 

All of the subjects taker their pill and the pill effects everyone differently. Why? No one knows, just like no one knows why they were selected, although we discover this a little later. Some of the people cannot handle the pill, some of the powers are powerful, too powerful and some of them have smaller limited abilities but the success of the film is the lacking of the power speech of responsibility and that everything will be peachy and they will do wonderful heroic things. These people are in a stressed locked up environment discovering huge strength and ability and half of them have no idea what to do with their powers or how to control their powers. For example, one of the first people just explodes out of nowhere – this was marvelously done and from that moment the film had my attention. Remember it is also a drug-trial movie, I assume different subjects were given different dosages and so on.

 

The Subjects Movie image
The Subjects | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | One of the subjects is colour altering

 

The screenplay is intelligent in what it wants to achieve but is fairly weak in most of its delivery. First of all the low budget effects, I loved them, they all worked out really well, sure they weren’t Star Wars brilliant but they were definitely Doctor Who worthy. The characters and their dialogue needed a lot of work, they basically took a sub-group of people and made them all different to the extreme. We have a black haired “like”- said before everything bimbo (Jenna – Emily Wheaton), the meathead male with pea sized brain and OTT sexual offensiveness (Giggles – Frank Magree), the Asian who apparently knows everything about time travel (Lilly – Charlotte Nicdao), the centred spiritual hippy guy who appears off chops the entire time (Corey – Paul Henri), the semi-normal dude with a secret and penchant for misleading magic (John – Paul O’Brien), the feminist (Nikki – Katharine Innes), the aggressive business man (Devin -Spencer McLaren), and some other guy (Phil -Tosh Greenslade).

The characters are mostly annoying – the bimbo I would have murdered myself and the meathead guy, probably straight after or immediately before the bimbo. Phil – easily my favourite character – his appearances made me crack up and I clap Mond for his inclusion.

 

The Subjects Movie image
The Subjects | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | One of the subjects can time travel

 

I wish this film had more budget, someone to look at that script and for some stronger direction to make the characters less annoying, serioulsy every time Jenna opened her mouth it was like fingers down a chalkboard and Giggles’ character was played way over the top by Frank Magree. The guy was a nightmare. But back to the social experiment, what happens when superpowers end up in people of questionable pre-determined internal heroism? They turn into power freaks and if this was a Spiderman movie they would become the bad guy, but not being a Hollywood movie these people are trapped in a room together and they are not all plain and innocent Peter Parkers, and some of them do not have the powers capable of defending themselves so are basically lambs to a slaughter.

I would have loved any of the powers to be honest, OK, maybe not the first guy and poor Phil, his powers were slightly sucky. I loved Lilly’s time travelling abilities but am annoyed that all of a sudden she has her power and already knew all about time travelling. It appeared to be a weakness in the screenplay or was it that as soon as she got the power she had already time traveled and automatically inherited previous intelligence before the fact? She is literally sitting on the couch and says “guys I think I can time travel.” Seemed odd.

 

The Subjects Movie image
The Subjects | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Not all the subjects are upstanding citizens

 

I enjoyed the ending and applaud the concept, But given some more work and a wee bit more budget this could have been the start of a new science fiction superhero franchise in a similar vein to the other one room Aussie low budget movie – SAW.

You can do much worse, if you get a spare 80mins – kick back with wine and chocolate and give it a suss – let us know what you think if you see it.

Available here on multiple VOD platforms; Vimeo, Amazon, Google Play, iTunes.

 

3 Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).