Saying goodbye to someone is always hard, especially when it’s the “forever” kind of goodbye. We all have our own ways to deal with the grief that comes along with that but it never gets easy.
That’s proven again by director A.T. White (“Another Year”, “Pulling Away”) and his “Starfish”. The film tells the intriguing story of a young girl dealing with the loss of her friend in a sci-fi way.
After knowing each other for ages, the loss of her friend Grace (Christina Masterson) is incredibly hard to overcome for Aubrey (Virginia Gardner).
She tries everything to keep the memory of her friend very much alive: talking to friends and family, reliving the enjoyable memories and listening to some cassettes from Grace.
While she’s doing that, something strange is happening around Aubrey. It seems like the world as we know is about to come to an end and vicious creatures will rule over what’s left of it.
Still coping with the loss of her friend, Aubrey needs to shut down all the emotions and stay calm to figure out what she will do about those animals. However, that’s easier said than done when one of them is breathing down your neck. Will Aubrey survive the end of the world or will she be reunited with her friend sooner than expected?
A story about the end of the world and our existence being wiped away by aliens. How many times haven’t we seen that before? Probably exactly what director White thought and he decided to add a new element to this story: Grieving about the loss of your closest friend. Sadly, that addition didn’t succeed for the full 100%.
One of the reasons why it did work was the emotional connection with the story. We’ve all had to deal with a loss during our lives. Whether it was a close family member or a friend you haven’t seen in ages, it’s always tough.
You might recognize yourself in the way Aubrey is handling her grief and how she’s trying to deal with it. Having conversations about your time with the loved one, watching pictures or just finding a meaningful item that reminds you of him/her. It can all make sure that his/her legacy keeps on going.
A film about sadness, grief, friendship but also the end of the world and survival has to count on the acting performances to make the right impression.
That impression is wonderfully delivered by leading lady Virginia Gardner (“Halloween”, “Little Bitches”). She does an admirable job as the broken, confused and mortified but also determined and brave Aubrey who’s doing everything to survive and to keep the legacy of her friend alive.
Especially the close-up shots of Gardner are beautifully brought to screen. What also made sure that the film got our attention for most of the time was the musical score.
The violins during the more emotional and gripping scene while the drums are giving the more bombastic moments a lot of power. There’s even some room for some dreamy and gentle Sigur Rós.
An emotional story, beautiful performances, and a very fitting score. So why was “Starfish” only able to convince us for half of its run? Well, because of the “horror” and sci-fi elements.
The film is being described as a horror and sci-fi but those scary moments, the mutilated faces and the creepy animal sounds miss their target completely as they’re very predictable. Because of that, it represses the emotional impact this film could have on us.
“Starfish” would definitely have impressed us even more if the emotional connection between Aubrey and the audience would be intact until the end of the film instead of being interrupted by elements that didn’t make sense.
Despite the fact the movie already won two awards (Best Sound Design at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and the Avant Robot Award Film Club’s The Lost Weekend), it could have easily won more than just a few.
Sadly, “Starfish” didn’t really know where it was heading to (a drama, horror or sci-fi) and becomes a mishmash of elements of all those genres.
It’s not able to grab our focus during the entire time but thanks to Virginia Gardner’s emotional and fine performance and the striking musical score, we watched “Starfish” until the very end.