Prospect (2018)


Banging, clunking, grinding, metal on metal, screeching and shuddering.

We have this strange notion that space travel would be perfectly silent.  After all, there is no noise in the vacuum of space. Yet big machines are still going to make vibrations that will carry through the fabric of the space vessel and fill it with…


I love the noise in this film.  I can’t remember a SF film that sounds so metallicly real, with endless little mechanical sounds and the harshness of rasping breath constantly sounding in our ears.  This is not a pretty future.  This is a grim and dusty, barely functional future, banged together from bits and pieces by people more desperate than skilled or knowledgeable.

As Americans, we’re used to a constant swell of music carrying our movies along — often subtle, but rarely absent for long — but Prospect rarely indulges in a score, preferring instead long stretches of near silence, punctuated by the harsh sounds of existing in this world.

The story is simple and a lot like one of those adult Westerns from the Seventies, only more pared-down, with little dialogue, minimal explanation, and a rich unique vocabulary in use by all the characters, the words invented for the trade of prospecting and working in the hostile realities of space.  A young girl goes along on what she thinks is a routine prospecting trip with her father, only things aren’t what they seem and go very wrong.  She ends up stranded on a hostile world, with only days to go before she loses her only chance to get away…

As stripped down and minimal as the story may be, the world in which it all takes place has a real depth to it — and not just the worn and battered equipment, or the endless user manuals they have to resort to, just to keep it all running, but the physics of space travel and high-tech weapons.  And yet, like the specialized vocabulary of this harsh frontier, the film doesn’t take the time to explain these things, they are just there, often in the background, or in use, with minimal explanation.

While this is an Indie feature, with a “low” budget, it actually had a fairly modest budget — around $3.9 Million — which was enough to ensure that its props, effects and location work are all well done, and to hire a first rate cast.  Pedro Pascal is the standout here, playing a soft spoken rogue, but Sophie Thatcher turns in an incredible performance in her first leading role.

First time directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl got a lot of attention back in 2014 for their short film version of Prospect.  They’ve done a stunning job of turning it into a feature, one which is harsh and even shocking at times, but which manages to find a little beauty in it all.

It should be interesting to see what they come up with next.

(My thanks to Zeek Earl and Brice Budke for providing a screener!)

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6 thoughts on “Prospect (2018)

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