Welcome to the first week of Pajiba’s Summer Sci-Fi movie club. In this inaugural edition, as we established last week, we’ll be discussing Frequencies, a low-budget indie science fiction film that seemed to have a good enough critical reaction to be a perfect start.
I am so very very sorry.
Great Yoda’s ghost, but that was a shitty movie.
Seriously though, I was kind of intrigued for the first fifteen minutes. It had that slow burn kind of mystery to it. None of it really made all that much sense, and it was weird, and I was curious to see where it was going. And then, hey let’s replay the first twenty minutes of the film except from the other character’s perspective. You know when that works? When those scenes do something different when told from a different perspective. But these don’t. They are almost indistinguishable in every way. I actually checked twice to make sure that the streaming hadn’t glitched back half an hour to an earlier point in the movie.
Let’s just get this right out of the way: the movie’s premise of a universe in which people have different frequencies where high frequencies are universally lucky and the world bends around them, while those with low are the opposite, is vaguely interesting if something interesting were done with it. It’s a nice off the wall sort of world that would work well in a fifteen page short story buried in an anthology, one with a focused point that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
As a deadly somber two hour movie, it’s just miserable and stupid, especially when it gets to the middle and starts having big stuff to say about history and human nature. Ooh, if you use certain magic words generated by an iPhone app, you can make frequencies converge. And oh my, use the right ones and whatever you say next, will brainwash the person you’re talking to. All of history is explained by people using these words of power, man. But don’t worry. The antidote is Mozart.
I mean, I could kind of for a moment see where they were trying to hit on some things about free will versus destiny, but it was all handled with such pseudo-scientific bullshit that it was like watching Jenny McCarthy explain how vaccines work in a TED talk at the Duggar’s home school. I’m not saying science fiction can’t have elements that have no basis in scientific fact. But it still has to pass two tests. First, the newly established rules can’t make me just roll my eyes at face value. Second, once the rules are established, play by them as if they are actual scientific fact. If the end result is ooh, maybe we just need to believe hard enough, then you’re not science fiction. You’re just draping yourself in the literally star-spangled flag and then intellectually masturbating. As the great Cyanide and Happiness pointed out: you don’t love science, you’re just looking at its ass when it walks by.
The last scene or so, when the protagonists go to a doctor and are prescribed a certain amount of Mozart and Pacobel per day? I actually was legally dead for thirty seconds from the sheer stupidity on my screen. The lights flickered, the ground shook slightly, as if for a moment dumbness pierced the veil allowing the dead to touch this plane of existence.
So I’m sorry, I’m really really sorry. Please use the comments to discuss just how this film was the worst thing that ever happened in your life, how it killed your dog or gave you cancer, and how I am responsible for all the suffering in your world.
Two weeks from now (Friday, June 12th), we will be watching Europa Report as recommended by several readers in last week’s comments. The first manned mission past the moon, all the way to investigate signs of life on Europa. I’m excited is what I’m saying.
It’s streaming on Netflix (but not Canuckflix, I tried running six different movies by the singular TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin, but not one of them was), and can be rented for a couple of bucks on Amazon and a few other places.