Not every film can be regarded as a recommended watch, no matter how much time and effort is put into the project from the cast and crew. There are certainly plenty of films that are regarded as bad from most audiences, but through sheer charm and earnestness they become enjoyable B-movies much like The Room. Unfortunately, Sensation isn’t a ‘good bad movie’. Even with some clear inspirations, Sensation is too confusing and chaotic to be considered enjoyable at all.
The film begins with a cold opening that is far too confusing to even describe here: the music is overly bombastic and obtrusive, the acting is completely wooden and the dialogue is nonsensical thanks to poor writing and a technical issue with the dialogue tracks that makes everyone sound slightly muffled. The film then introduces its protagonist: Andrew (Eugene Simon, recognisable as Lancel Lannister from Game of Thrones), a postman who provides an agency with his DNA to learn more about his ancestry and figure out who his father is. The agency, however, discover that Andrew has special DNA that grants him superhuman abilities, and soon enough whisk him away to a research facility to unlock his superhuman skills.
There’s a pivotal scene towards the end of the first act that perfectly encapsulates what kind of film Sensation is. Andrew is walking beside some bright neon advertisement boards when he is attacked by a stranger. Framed from a side angle reminiscent of the famous fight scene from Oldboy, the action sequence sees Simon effortlessly fend off the assailant. The quick cuts attempt to mask the poor fight choreography, there’s a strange cut that destroys the pacing of the scene, and the music sounds like a Kevin MacLeod track. Even with the vivid lighting in the background, the colours look flat in the final image. The cast and crew have their hearts in the right place, but what could have been an exciting sequence with invigorating visuals simply falls apart in execution.
It seems that the biggest culprit to the film’s failure is the writing. There’s a sense that the writers were trying to create a complex story to keep audiences on their toes, but with no groundwork laid before any of the film’s reveals, audiences will only become frustrated. A scene reveals that Andrew’s mother (Maggie Turner) has some sort of connection with the research facility, when Andrew discovers an old photo within the facility with his mother in it. The problem is, the audience only hears the mother’s voice through unimportant phone calls with Andrew, and so the camera is too shy to even show the photo in detail as there isn’t any emotional or physical connection for the audience. This issue is a common one throughout the whole narrative, which leads to the actual characters on screen to deliver numerous exposition dumps to tell the story.
Sensation’s second act is somewhat better as the audience can familiarise themselves with the singular location and the plot that sees Andrew and a handful of chosen candidates to take part in a series of reality-bending tasks. Again it’s difficult to describe what actually happens as the film purposefully keeps things vague, refusing to answer questions that the characters and the audience have. Although it seems that the writers are earnestly trying to tell the best story they can, there are a couple lines of dialogue from the main cast that are racist and completely unnecessary towards a particular character. When the film reaches the third act and the narrative climax, a plot twist somewhat reveals what is actually going on, but in doing so it makes pretty much everything preceding that moment redundant and pointless.
It’s unfortunate to see so many people involved in a project that has the potential to be, at the very least, a fun B-movie thriller but in execution becomes a chaotic piece of filmmaking. Whilst the screenplay needs the most work, the directing and technical elements would still drag the film down even if the story was somewhat engaging. A sensation, this film is not.
Sensation is available on Amazon Prime Video April 16.