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‘Solitary’ review: Engaging sci-fi mystery

First Australia, now this.

Solitary is a science fiction thriller that tries to prove that horror is not the only genre that plays well with sci-fi. Isaac (Johnny Sachon) wakes up with no memory of who or where he is. He soon learns he is a prisoner from Earth sent to colonize another planet. The only other person on the ship is a woman named Alana (Lottie Tolhurst). She also does not know what is going on, but she soon knows what she wants to do.

There is a lot of familiarity to the story. It is set in the future and Earth has too many people and too little resources. The obvious next step is colonizing another planet. It has been done before, but watching a British film take on the subject of deporting prisoners adds a layer of subtext not often seen. There are also questions about the media and how prisoners are regarded.

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Wisely, Solitary focuses more on its lead characters than its special effects. The low budget sometimes shows and the script is well written. There is a great sense of tension. Helping matters is the great chemistry and performances of Sachon and Tolhurst. Alana is an especially interesting character. There is an air of mystery around her as the plot unfolds. The film provides hints as to what her true nature may be, but Solitary also posits enough questions about human nature that will prevent audiences from jumping to conclusions. Giving her nuance also ensures the story from becoming too predictable or silly. 

Solitary is an enjoyable mystery placed in a science fiction setting. There are some missteps along the way – the film never quite gets around to addressing some of its most interesting questions – but nothing will impact the viewing experience. Despite being set in a single location, it also boasts some beautiful camerawork. It is a nice addition to today’s sci fi landscape.

Solitary comes to select theaters and on demand September 24

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