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Writer-director Keir Burrow’s critically acclaimed sci-fi masterpiece “Anti Matter” hits theaters and VOD this September from Uncork’d Entertainment.
Experience “art-house psychological horror at its finest” (MovieCrypt.com) in a “stylish and intriguing” (Shadows on the Wall) take on “Alice in Wonderland“.
Ana, an Oxford PhD student finds herself unable to build new memories following an experiment to generate and travel through a wormhole. The story follows her increasingly desperate efforts to understand what happened, and to find out who – or what – is behind the rising horror in her life.
Featuring a cast “anchored by a strong performance from Yaiza Figueroa” (Eye for Film), “Anti Matter” is a “taut thriller that should appeal to both hard sci-fi fans and those who don’t know their wormholes from their warp drives” (One Room With a View).
What is the movie about, sir?
For me, it’s about science, and overreach, and what makes us human. It’s me trying to ask, is there an intangible, non-physical element to who we are? To take Descartes’ line ‘I think, therefore I am’, and wrap an entertaining movie around it. I also know that sounds helluva floaty, so more directly it’s about a teleportation experiment that goes – well, it seems to go wrong, shall we say. And Ana, the test subject, wakes up and everyone and everything is different, and hostile. And she goes out and investigates. It’s sci-fi, definitely, with some horror elements, with some noir elements. It’s fun, it’s accessible, it’s, I think, smart but not fussily so. I’ve tried to offer some big ideas for people to ponder in a fun, entertaining vehicle.
And if the trailer is anything to go by it would seem to be based on some of the classic fairytales of our youth?
Interesting observation. I’d love to say yes – and funnily enough my next movie cleaves closely to that template, dark fairy tales – but Anti Matter was intended initially as straight science fiction, dry and cerebral, Solaris and Primer. The darker, fairy-tale elements grew during the production process. That was me the director wanting to have genre fun versus me the writer wanting to be all lofty and pseudo-philosophical.
How closely do you stick to that template though?
Not very closely. I’ll need to ponder this one. I think if there was a template I was trying to stick to, it was old gumshoe noir, that paranoid mystery feeling of old detective stories. So it’s a mix of things, of the things I like, definitely. It’s hard to separate my own interests – ie dark fairy tales – and their indirect influences from the more direct influences (sci-fi, film noir) I knowingly roped in when writing the script.
And would you call it a straight-up sci-fi movie?
Yeah I think I would. It’s proper science fiction. I mean it has other elements as I say, horror, noir, thriller, mystery, but it’s straight up thinking science-fiction. At least I bloody hope that’s what it is, that’s what I intended it to be!
Is there another movie you’d say your movie is reminiscent of?
Primer was a huge influence – watching that ages ago, and being blown away by it – and importantly, realizing how much you can do with no money. Just an idea, if it’s interesting, with science fiction, can be enough. Watch La Jetee – it’s a sci-fi film made from still photos and it’s devastatingly good! It’s been nice to see so many reviews speak positively of the influence of Carruth’s film on mine. It’s not the same though – ours is weirder, spookier I suppose? More graphic novel, which is how I’d describe my style. Then what else? Memento, Prestige, Pi, Moon, Another Earth, they were all movies I watched a lot whilst writing, and making, Anti Matter.
What about the contemporary part of the story – any influences there? Maybe something you read about in the newspaper?
Interesting question, haven’t had that one before. Cool. So no, nothing directly. I mean now I can’t get away from articles on teleportation and particle physics and so on. But at the time of writing, no, not that I can remember anyway. The basic premise stems from a kind of regularly discussed idea, in fiction and in the news, that notion that science can go too far. Will it be our undoing or our salvation? And that question is posed about us as a species, but also as individuals. And it’s a great question that can and will be explored until the end of days in human stories. Anyway, so that was some of what went in to this.
How much did you go and learn about worm holes?
Hahaha my God I did so much research. Honestly. My bookcase groans with tomes on particle physics and relativity. The whole opening, all the science, I was very clear when writing that it couldn’t be gobbledygook. It had to make sense, even if it was at its heart pure fiction. I’ve seen several awful sci-fi Primer ripoffs where people just garble utter nonsense. Made-up words that don’t mean anything. I wanted every conversation my scientists had to at least be somewhat logical – even if it is ultimately made up, it should have scientific sense to it. The steps they take, the scientific method they employ – if a scientist watches Anti Matter, hopefully they’ll go, it’s bollocks, but it’s well-crafted bollocks. I did physics and chemistry all through high school, so I had a rudimentary base understanding of the things I had to research. Hands up admit though I’m ultimately just a layman. So be gentle!
Was Chris Nolan’s Interstellar an influence? Did you watch that before scripting Anti Matter?
No – when did that come out? I think we were already halfway through making Anti Matter, or we’d already started filming anyway, the script locked, when that came out. I remember seeing it and it had the old fold-paper-and-poke-a-pen through to show wormhole physics, and we’d already shot that and I was like, oh bugger. Anyway, totally off question, but Interstellar is effing phenomenal, ain’t it? One of, if not the, best movies of the last decade. Nolan’s best for sure. I love that film so much.
What’s coming up for you?
So various irons in the fire. I have a few scripts finished, so I’ll spend the next couple years hopefully getting those off the ground. I’m not in a rush, always better to go slow and steady and get it right than race madly ahead and create junk. I have a great horror, A Spriggan. It’s proper horror, an old misty woods and creaking floorboards monster movie, a dark fairy tale, Conjuring by-way-of del Toro, that I’m hoping we’ll get a proper budget for. So hopefully that’s next. Several other things. We have two small kids with a third on the way though so I’m busy whatever happens. It’s all good.
Writer/Director Keir Burrows is on Twitter, @keirburrows
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