I’m really not sure what to make of this one.
Certainly the blurb on the posters isn’t any help. Whatever else we’re talking about here, it isn’t “A Science Fiction Road Picture.”
Admittedly, that term “road picture” has strayed a bit from its origins with the endless series of “Road To…” movies Bing Crosby and Bob Hope made: it no longer is used exclusively for films where a pair of male leads bumble their way together on a long journey through lots of interesting scenery. Or for comedies. And there is a journey here, although I can’t say it fills up too much of the film
Nor do I buy into this line in the official blurb: “It’s an alien drama that blends 50’s sci-fi with existential theme.” I’d be hard pressed to point at anything here that reminds me of a Fifties Sci Fi film.
But I’m not even certain that science fiction is the right term, once you throw in sorcerers, and powerful beings with mysterious powers.
Which leaves us with fantasy, although that is a word so big it could describe almost anything.
Or you could just go with the description in one of their blurbs: an existential science fiction fantasy.
Which really doesn’t mean much.
The story is basic enough: Aya, a powerful entity who just happens to be played by Dark Shadows‘ Catherine Leigh Scott, created a “son” to send on a mission to defeat a powerful evil entity known as The Eldretch.
All David knows is that he has to give something to a man he only knows as The Dreamer. He is actually a sorcerer named Nikolas Winter (played by another Dark Shadows alumnus, Lawson Chiles) who has lived for ages but is now losing his powers.
So David looks for Nikolas, and we all know it’s going to lead to a big fight with The Eldretch.
And there really isn’t too much more to The Rising Light than that.
The Rising Light is one of the films made by Ansel Faraj, a decidedly independent, self-taught filmmaker who grew up with Dark Shadows and Turner Classic Movies and wants to make films like the ones he loves. He is perhaps best known for his revisionist take on Dr. Mabuse, which I can’t say I much liked as I felt it strayed too far from Fritz Lang’s original. However, his next film, The Last Case of August T. Harrison (2015) is a stunning cross between a detective story about an aging sleuth on his last case — and Lovecraftian horror.
We’ve got some dazzling visuals here, wild colorful light displays which are supposed to impress us, we’ve got things going on behind the scenes in Aya’s realm, we have a lovingly photographed trip to the Griffith Observatory in LA, the iconic location featured in Rebel Without a Cause. It never fails to look great and it is all presented with a deadly seriousness.
But there just doesn’t seem to be that much there.
However, if you are looking for something meditative and a little New Agey, something which will dazzle the eyes and bathe you in an eerie soundtrack without burying you in a lot of plot, well, you definitely are looking in the right place.
Oh, well, I was expecting a somewhat surreal sci fi, Fifties-ish road picture with aliens and what not. Instead I got this. So perhaps it’s all the old problem that we don’t always appreciate what we get if we thought it would be something else.
But I really don’t think so…