CatchsmOften the best science fiction is not actually about what it is about. To take the example of two of his best known novels, when John Wyndham wrote The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes he was not writing about flesh eating plants destroying civilisation or aliens taking over the world from beneath the oceans, he was talking about how people react in a crisis where social infrastructure breaks down, where resources are suddenly scarce due to a population wide catastrophe or rising sea levels.

The comparison with Wyndham is apt, for the short film Catch, recently premiered following a successful Kickstarter campaign for the very modest sum of £6,210 in order to complete post-production, with rain hammering on the windows and performances of reserved acceptance in the face of a tragedy which cannot be circumvented, is a very British view of the end of the world, the “cosy catastrophe” of which Wyndham was affectionately mocked.

Catch1Worse, where Wyndham described his work as “a modified form of science fiction,” here writer/directors Dominic Rees-Roberts and Paul Cooke have done the opposite with their marginally modified form of reality, a terrifyingly plausible change to a single thread in the tapestry of modern life which has unravelled the cloth end to end.

Tom (Dracula‘s Henry Douthwaite, soon to be seen in the snowy thriller Off-Piste) keeps his daughter locked in an upstairs bedroom, the walls lined in plastic sheeting, wearing a face mask when he visits her to bring her food. Living on bottled water and soup tins, they’re lucky in that they have provisions, they that were prepared. Things were different before, better, but their world now revolves around rolling power cuts, quarantine zones and hazard tape stuck on windows. Many others were likely not so lucky.

Catch3There’s just the two of them in the house as far as Tom knows, but hidden away Amy (former West End Matilda Lollie McKenzie in her film debut) has also kept Teddy even though she knows her father told her not to, but it’s all she has left of her brother Ben. And now Amy has started coughing, as Ben and her mother did before they were taken away “to get better.”

With Rees-Roberts and Cooke’s background in factual television including Channel 4’s Experimental, Discovery’s Outrageous Acts of Science and BBC’s Horizon, Catch is sober rather than sensationalist and opens with definitions of antibiotic and antibiotic resistance which contain within them a salutary warning: we found this, we abused this, we are doing it to ourselves. Like the heating of prepared food, tins of beans over gas, popping pills has become a mundane act undertaken with no awareness of the environmental cost or wider consequence.

Catch2At only sixteen minutes the narrative is slight but the short dose means the impact is concentrated in its intention to provoke debate, not only in Tom’s actions, whether he did the right thing or at least chose the least wrong thing for Amy from a diminishing range of options which will all eventually lead to the same outcome, but in the wider scope of society’s complex relationship with modern medicine.

Despite our intimate reliance on science and technology in every aspect of of our lives, the general population are too often wilfully ignorant, allowing the anti-vaccination movement to demand special dispensation despite centuries of evidence, patients to neglect their health and then expect miracles, doctors to negligently overprescribe, and politicians to act as though only the wealthy are entitled to healthcare. This squabbling distracts from the real enemy, the viruses and bacteria who in their silent indifference are always waiting for opportunity.

Following its London premiere, Catch has been selected for both the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Aesthetica Short Film Festival

Visit for more information on screenings and for specific information on slowing the progress of antibiotic resistance




Show Buttons
Hide Buttons