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Exile (2008)

-Review by Nic Brown-

Most low budget indy-filmmakers stick to the easier genres of horror and drama, films that don’t require as much in the way of special effects and unusual locations. Not Mike Conway. Like his last two features: TERRARIUM and THE AWAKENING, his new film EXILE pushes the boundaries of low budget filmmaking by journeying into the world of Sci-Fi.

Jason (Brian Sheridan) is a freighter pilot. After his ship is attacked by hostile forces, he must crash land his ship on a barren, desolate world. Jason suffers a head injury that renders him blind and totally dependent upon his two surviving crewmates; unfortunately, they soon encounter a monstrous indigenous life form that makes short work of his friends. Alone and blindly stumbling around the planet, Jason has the good fortune to encounter Reyna (Heather Lei Guzzetta).

Reyna is an android created by a brilliant scientist to be his companion and protector after he fled to the barren world. Unfortunately he died leaving Reyna alone and without purpose… until she meets Jason.

Jason quickly becomes dependent upon the super strong android to protect him as enemy soldiers arrive on the planet searching for him. She modifies one of their weapons to key on motion/sound for targeting. providing Jason with a way to defend himself. However, he is still almost helpless without Reyna. Reyna for her part is dependent upon Jason because her design does not allow her to function more than 72 hours without a recharge, and if no human who keys into her “habitat” is there, she cannot reawaken.

Jason begins to develop more and more feelings for Reyna and it seems that her “non-linear” programming is allowing her to experience the same. However, a darker side begins to emerge as Reyna tries to discourage Jason from attempting to leave. Has she really developed some feelings for Jason or is it all part of a deeper instinct she is developing the instinct for survival at any cost?

Conway’s film EXILE has all the right elements for good science fiction: monsters, androids, spaceships, but most importantly it has a good story. Heather Guzzetta does an excellent job portraying the android Reyna, a cross between Star Trek’s Mr. Data and a Terminator. Guzzetta has the physical presence to be intimidating at times, yet she still manages to realistically bring some warmth and innocence to a character that is, at the end of the day, a machine. While budgetary constraints do limit many of the special effects scenes, Conway still manages to provide a decently menacing alien creature, and he uses a particularly rocky and desolate part of the Utah landscape to full advantage as his alien world.

EXILE shows that you don’t have to have big budget special effects and sets to create good science fiction, as long as you have a good story and characters to move it along. So check out Mike Conway’s EXILE. It’s a fun, entertaining sci-fi film reminiscent of THE OUTER LIMITS.

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