STARRING: Clovis Cornillac, Vimala Pons, Zohar Wexler, Sifan Shao, Arben Bajraktaraj

2008, 88 Minutes, Directed by:
Franck Vestiel

In an excruciatingly long sequence involving a dark cavern, a flashing strobe light designed to elicit an epileptic seizure in audience members and a copious amount of grunting, a man (Clovis Cornillac) wakes up in an underground laboratory complex. The man has no idea who he is and what he is doing there.

The labyrinthine high-tech lab has been overrun by monstrous mutant creatures that seem to have wandered in from one of the Doom computer games. A giant tree (perhaps the one from The Fountain?) has spouted roots all over the place and appears to be alive, the roots literally draining the life from its human victims. Added to the mix are some of your standard fascist Imperial storm trooper types (dressed in black, and not white like the ones in Star Wars) who are also restlessly on the prowl beating up on the mutants. What is going on? And should we care?

The only person who has any answers is a female scientist who befriends our protagonist. Problem is that she is about as forthcoming and cryptic as the movie itself. Welcome to Eden Log, a 2008 French production that seems to have mistaken a lingering sense of mystery with just plain old confusion. For most of the movie’s running time the audience is kept (literally) in the dark as to what exactly is going on. When some answers are finally revealed, it is difficult to care any more.

Eden Log comes across as a monochrome, grungier version of Cube, the indie movie about a group of amnesiac strangers waking up inside a complex structure filled with death traps. In Cube it is never revealed who built the cube and why, but when one thinks about it, it doesn’t matter. Eden Log supplies answers towards its end, but for most of the film’s running time we are left to wonder why we should care about our hero endlessly struggling to forcibly open a gate or evade the fascist storm trooper types. With Eden Log one feels that answers should be forthcoming. The thing is that when they are finally supplied, those answers come across as anticlimactic and obscure.

Also, the somewhat sluggish pace (involving a lot of grunting – did we mention that?) doesn’t help. Still, if you want something slightly more ambitious and interesting than the endless low rent Alien remakes that the SciFi Channel tries to sell off as science fiction nowadays, then Eden Log is recommended. One just wishes that it could have been better and that its narrative were clearer. At least it’s less pretentious than Dante 01, another recent French sci-fi effort. Like that movie this one should be filed under “seriously flawed, but nonetheless intriguing.”


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