By Michelle Strozykowski (Aug 2023)
Isn’t it strange how life can be so serendipitous sometimes? Earlier on today I was lost down a social media rabbit hole, reading scientifically unproven, but nevertheless incredibly interesting and compelling tales, about supposed reincarnations. These were stories about children who could remember their past lives, and whilst they gave me spine-tingling shivers, they were not out and out scare-fests. Following on from this I watched the new indie film Reboot, which ostensibly concerns a similar subject matter. I was a little hesitant to press play on the screener, but as with the reported past lives stories, this was not the scary horror I anticipated. There’s a bit of blood and mild violence, yes, but it’s not a jump scare/creepy camera-angle filled drama of terror.
The opening scene is pretty scary though, because someone being trapped in a place and repeatedly screaming “let me out” is a bit nerve jangling. But as it continues, the film becomes more psychologically experimental than threatening. The concept centres around a group of men, including our main protagonist Daniel (Aaron Long), who experience life as ‘circular existence’, reliving or ‘re-booting’ over and over again in the same small Wiltshire town of Westbury. The accompanying blurb has it that they are part of an ancient tribe, burdened with the task of bearing witness to the end of the world. This is not immediately apparent, of course, but becomes inevitable as the looming planet in the background draws ever nearer to Earth.
Daniel’s constant life of rebooting is wearing thin, and his memories of timelines lived before overlap and become confusing, both to him and to us the viewers. The film builds on this conceit, leaving us with far more questions than answers. It is also awash with visceral imagery, and is quite Lynchian in places, with a steadfast refusal to spoon-feed its audience. I’ve written a few notes down whilst watching this film that now read like the transcript of a fever dream; the moon, the red planet, flamingos, alpacas, men in hats, black cats, horses… Could there be a nod towards The Master and Margarita? Or maybe that’s just me obsessing about my favourite book.
Reboot was made at the end of the COVID-19 lockdown, by director John Wheeler. He describes it as part autobiography, part fantasy, and confirms it completes his decade long ‘Afterlife Trilogy’ of works. The film is the proud recipient of 11 awards on the international film festival circuit, and is now seeking distribution. Filmarama wishes it all the luck in the world, with just one caveat. If someone could please get that poor actress (Eirwen Kreed, who plays Sandy) a dressing gown we’d all be mightily grateful! There honestly did not seem to be a single scene where it was necessary for her to be without clothes, and yet she often was. The effect really was quite jarring, and not in a good way. In a wtf way. But hey, fingers crossed they can sort it in the reboot.