DIVINITY Review: Lo-Fi Sci-Fi Packed with Fascinating, Intriguing Ideas

Scott Bakula and Steven Dorff star; Eddie Alcazar directed.

Lead Critic; San Francisco, California
DIVINITY Review: Lo-Fi Sci-Fi Packed with Fascinating, Intriguing Ideas

There’s a fine line between ambition and pretension.

It’s a line writer-director Eddie Alcazar (The Vandal, Perfect, Fuckkkyouuu) repeatedly skirts in his second feature-length film, Divinity, an absurdist, po-faced, lo-fi sci-fi film shot in gloriously luminous, numinous black-and-white.

As a taste of things to come, Divinity features former Disney Channel star turned straight-to-VOD performer Bella Thorne in an extended cameo as the enigmatic Ziva, the laconic leader of a procreative cult, and Stephen Dorff as Jaxxon Pierce, a second-generation (mad) scientist, and part-time pitchman obsessed with perfecting his father’s formula for immortality. There’s one minor catch, however, to said immortality formula: It renders regular users infertile in exchange for health, well-being, and an extended lifespan.

Divinity pivots on Jaxxon’s perfection of the formula his late father, Sterling (Scott Bakula, cameoing through video logs), created. Perfected, the formula will not only bring additional untold riches to the already uber-wealthy younger Pierce but solidify his reputation as his late father’s equal, if not better. Although Jaxxon obsesses over perfecting the formula, he also finds time to indulge in physical pleasures, including a romp with a live-in girlfriend, Lynx (porn star Emily Willis) that serves more as a distraction than an act of physical or emotional intimacy.

Before Jaxxon can resume work in his lab, two unnamed strangers (Moises Arias, Jason Genao) in wrestling tights literally drop from the sky, invade his home, and zap him with some kind of stun gun. They eventually restrain Jaxxon and tie him up.

They, like others apparently, want to stop Jaxxon before he perfects the formula. They also decide to turn the current version of the formula on Jaxxon himself to prove its long-term, deleterious effects. The result isn’t unexpected, but it is, if nothing else, nothing short of hilarious, Alcazar’s sly commentary no doubt on the male fixation with oversized musculature and meaningless feats of strength.

Not surprisingly, Jaxxon barely notices when Lynx escapes moments after the arrival of the strangers. She almost dies before members of Ziva’s super-powered cult appear to transport Lynx back to their compound somewhere nearby (or nowhere really).

A new character, Nikita (Karrueche Tran), essentially takes Lynx’s place. A sex worker hired by Jaxxon, Nikita finds she can’t leave, partly because the two brothers physically block her escape, but more because she becomes fascinated with one of the unnamed brothers (Genao), an oddly affecting, openly curious stranger of unknown origin unfamiliar with the rites and rituals of sexual intimacy or emotional bonding.

Their halting, burgeoning relationship gives Divinity the only one worth following or, ultimately, worth salvaging. In a near future where life extension has resulted in the unfettered indulgence of practically every desire or appetite, intimacy of any kind seems to be missing, if not outright nonexistent. Alcazar makes little effort to give dimension or depth to the other characters, including Jaxxon or his hulking, self-obsessed bodybuilder brother, Rip (Michael O’Hearn), who makes a second-half appearance at the family compound to celebrate Jaxxon’s latest birthday.

If nothing else, Divinity is jam-packed with fascinating, intriguing, provocative ideas about commerce, consumerism, and hedonism, and their respective roles in environmental collapse, the rise of all-consuming hedonism, and the end of humanity as a viable species. Using a modest budget to his advantage, Alcazar fills the retro-future of Divinity with the debris and detritus of our immediate past, cluttering the central location, a multi-level mid-century modern structure dropped into a desert environment, with pre-Apple tech, old-school television sets, and relatedly crude retro-tech.

Review originally published during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. The film opens in New York tomorrow (Friday, October 13), before expanding to other theaters nationwide. Visit the official site for more information.


  • Eddie Alcazar
  • Eddie Alcazar
  • Bella Thorne
  • Stephen Dorff
  • Scott Bakula
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Eddie AlcazarJason GenaoKarrueche TranMoises AriasScott BakulaSteven DorffBella ThorneStephen DorffSci-FiThriller

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