A young woman wakes up in a tiny attic room, tied to a chair.
She tries to get free, but she can’t find a way out.
And then everything gets weird and she ends up back in the chair again.
She tries again and again, getting a little further each time — although she may not remember what happened before — and occasionally has flashes of another reality where there is darkness and the sound of soldiers.
And, in between her attempts to discover what is going on, and her efforts to reach a mysterious scientific research center, we also get snippets of interviews with two scientists — one of them played by Ian McKellen, the other by Game of Thrones’ Lord Varys, Conleth Hill — talking about a parallel world and their attempts to study it.
Most of the time, Tori Butler-Hart is the only one on screen. Most of this footage was shot on cell phone with just Tori and her husband, Max Butler-Hart (who directs and co-writes) present. Nor does she directly interact with any of the other characters we occasionally glimpse, who seem to be in a different reality.
Except, that is, for the other versions of herself.
Apparently, this was part of a larger project the Butler-Harts were working on, which will involve comics and a TV series. They had no intention of actually releasing this film at the time they made it during the Covid lockdown, and have been surprised how well it’s done worldwide. Its poor quality video doesn’t seem to have hurt the film at all, which isn’t that surprising at a time when a lot of people are watching films on their phones.
For most of its runtime, it is intriguing and builds nicely. However, it starts seeming a bit long before it’s done, and the ending is a bit frustrating. It’s quite impressive what the two were able to do with such minimal resources, but it feels like the ending should have opened things up more. They needed to do a lot more to tie their story into the bigger story that’s hinted at. Perhaps the Covid restrictions prevented them from doing this, although one can picture solutions which wouldn’t have required them to gather too many actors. Perhaps a glimpse of the scientists watching multiple superimposed worlds.
Infinitum: Subject Unknown is an interesting minimal film, with some solid ideas behind it, and glimpses of a larger world. It’s compelling watching, and Tori is quite good in it.
It just isn’t entirely satisfying.
But you have to admit it’s a brave try.