After the Lethargy

Journalist Sara Hamilton is on a mission, investigating the conspiracy theories of internet pundit “Doctor UFO” of SpaceTV, “broadcasting the truth,” whose DVD The Tetis File speaks of a cover up in the Rocky Mountains, an area of forest closed to the public for forty years following what he claims was the crash of a flying saucer, one of whose occupants was unaccounted for.

Travelling to Tetis County, she sees the signs warning of bears, the police down by the river with the body of a mauled woman; Park Ranger Joe explains that they are particularly dangerous when awaking from hibernation, hungry after the lethargy, but Sara’s interest is in the abandoned military barracks.

Tracking their way through the forest, Joe realises they are being followed; pulling his gun on what she presumes to be a bear, he tells Sara to run and not look back, but as they arrive at the derelict building Joe tells her there is a history of strange occurrences, and left alone she is attacked by an inhuman presence.

With its UK premiere at the Sci-Fi London film festival, After the Lethargy is an abstract international oddity, written, produced, edited and directed by Marc Carreté, filmed in the wilderness of Spain with a bilingual cast talking English with a variety of accents, American, English and even something approaching Australian.

The supposed Rocky Mountain location setting it in America yet with the prelude and the police car licence plates stating “the Republic of Somewhere,” Carreté’s game is apparently misdirection, Doctor UFO talking of Mayan depictions of UFOs three thousand years ago and Bibilical references but bemoaning that even with the advent of photography leading to what he regards as hard evidence, sceptics still deny.

Religious references abound, in the dialogue, in the quotes on the walls of mute forest dweller Ed’s camper van, possibly intended to parallel the “ancient astronaut” theories of those such as Erich von Däniken, that religion itself was inspired by extra-terrestrial visitors, while the interludes of Doctor UFO considers the psychology of the phenomena of UFOlogy even as it pokes fun at its eccentric adherents.

The setup promising, the execution is unfortunately amateur as After the Lethargy switches to a prolonged mess of running through forests, crawling through ventilation shafts, shuffling through darkened corridors and stock supporting characters as Sara pursued by a alien whose offscreen chirruping is more effective than its visible presence, quite obviously – and unconvincingly – inserted in post-production.

Of the cast, Andrea Guasch is by far the best though the independent young journalist quickly becomes little more than a generic screamer, and it seems neither Park Ranger Joe (Joe Manjón) nor the police officers have previously handled a gun in their lives, and as the film moves towards basement breeding experiments and the Eraserhead baby makes a cameo appearance it is better to focus Jordi Dalmau’s soundtrack and the glorious scenery than try to make sense of whatever Carreté is trying to impart.

After the Lethargy had its UK premiere at the Sci-Fi London film festival on 16th May