Review: TERMINUS Shoots For the Stars, Crashes

Editor, U.S.; California (@m_galgana)
Review: TERMINUS Shoots For the Stars, Crashes
Directed and co-written by Marc Furmie, Terminus tells what happens when an alien pod or meteorite fragment falls to Earth. The story focuses on garage owner and mechanic David Chamberlain (Jai Koutrae) and his daughter Annabelle (Kendra Appleton) as they struggle with more bills, less money, and life in a warring society. Army vet and amputee Zach (Todd Lasance) enters their lives, looking for a job with David while rebuilding his life after the war. 

There are small-town spats, glimpses of a unnamed war going on in the Middle East, and vets being spat on and ridiculed by American "patriot" types, such as what happened when troops returned home from the Vietnam War. However, the larger story is of the alien rock that plummets to Earth, as previously mentioned. One night, on his birthday, no less, David returns from a night out drinking at the local bar. We are introduced to his daughter Annabelle, who's baked a cake for him and gives him a new watch. At first, David thinks she's skipped out on college, but Annabelle (a little too gently) informs him that he's failed to make the payments. From there, the remorseful David promises to figure something out, and decides to go out again, presumably to clear his head, even though he's clearly drunk.

This is when he gets into a near fatal accident. He comes into contact with --- let's call it a meteorite --- which has miraculously fast healing properties. At the hospital, it's discovered that the kidney that he donated to his late wife (Katherine Hicks) has grown back. She has begun to appear to him to warn him of future happenings in some of the film's more tender moments. When David hires Zach to help him load the meteorite into a truck and bring it back to the garage, Zach accidentally touches it and thus begins a painful regrowth of the leg he lost in the war. 

That's all great, but of course, the Feds --- or as they call themselves, the NSA, short for National Science Agency --- are after the rock for supposedly benevolent purposes. Or do they want to keep the war going indefinitely by regenerating fallen soldiers?

I'm almost certain that the script as its written on the page, is a good one. The sound design is good, as are some of the images and human moments between the characters. However, there are missed opportunities in terms of character development; we are told that some characters are good, and some are bad. Not everything is black and white in that world, and there are some motives that are unclear. Of course, that's fine --- but what is that special something that actually makes us care about the characters in a story? 

If it were to be easily defined, every film ever made would be great. But what makes a film great is an elusive mix of acting, story, editing, and the assorted technical details of sound and image. It's a feat of endurance that any film gets made with all the people and working parts involved. The issue with Terminus is that it strives for a very ambitious place in the universe but lacks what it takes to get there.  

hits VOD and theaters on January 22. We've got the trailer below --- check it out.
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