Eden Log (2007)
Hi all, Nate here. Just thought I’d pass along a quick review of a little sci-fi movie that struck me as quite inventive and original. Originality in the sci-fi genre is not something you see often, as it seems nearly everything in the last 30 years has either been a remake or a reboot, or a remake of a reboot, or a rebooted remake, whatever, you just don’t get that many truly unique ideas anymore from studios so terrified of losing money that they won’t finance anything unless it was based on a comic book or stars Justin Beiber. Eden Log is a French film, which probably helps explain how it got made in the first place, that is confusing and head-scratching in the extreme, but totally engrossing because you just don’t have any idea what’s going on and what everything in the plot is leading up to, and for that I’ll forgive the shaky handycam work and the single-color (gray) over-saturation throughout.
And shadows, lots of shadows.
Anyway, I’ll run through this quick because you really just need to see it for yourself. A nameless man awakes deep in a crumbling underground complex, alone, dirty, half-naked, afraid, and without any memory of who he is, where he is, or what is going on. The rest of the movie is his slow, painful journey of discovery as he works his way up through the bowls of the complex to the surface level. The entire structure seems to have been built around the sprawling roots of a gigantic “tree” of some sort, though it seems to have sentient abilities and both feeds off of human energy and gives back life in return. I’m sure it’s some sort of metaphorical French thing, but just know that this tree (which is maybe even an alien life form?) has a special symbiotic relationship with our wandering hero that no other human shares.
Along the way he meets a few other survivors of whatever disaster has struck this massive complex. The first is “the architect” who the root system is busy devouring, who gives him some clues about the nature of the tree’s sap. It seems this liquid gives humans super strength in the short term, and drives them mad and turns them into zombie/mutants in the long term. Is our hero infected? Is he immune? Is he both? We’ll see.
The architect is one with the plant now.
He also meets “the botanist”, another survivor who gives him more clues about the tree of life, to which the surface dwellers have been feeding humans so that they can harvest the power it produces to light up their cities and machines. I know, that makes no sense to me, either. Is our hero one of the “workers” sent down here to die for the plant? Is he something else? We’ll also see. The botanist is a pretty young girl, by the way, and our hero ends up raping her when the “infection” starts to affect his mind in terrible ways. I was actually surprised (and repulsed) at how brutal and violent our “hero” is throughout this movie, there’s very little about his personality or actions that would make you really care about his survival in any way. You’re here to see what this tree thing is all about, that’s the story, and that‘s why you put up with all the rest.
She could stand a shower.
More info about his situation and circumstances (abjectly miserable both) comes from scattered bits of operational technology he comes across. These include flickering holographic infomercials, user unfriendly computer terminals, grainy ‘80s vintage security camera feeds, and even an iPod thingie that he pulls off a dead man. All this high-tech stuff is a wonderful counterpoint to the gritty, dirty, bloody world of rusty iron and knee-deep sludge that our hero has been fighting through. At times, though, all this mixed media begins to waver our plot towards the dreaded “found footage” genre, but thankfully these moments are brief.
Filmed in the Paris sewer tunnels?
The mutants make their come-and-go appearances throughout the movie, snarling savages who seem bent on shredding our hero’s body for no other reason than he is not one of them. There were once normal humans, recall, but working with the tree’s roots has left them horrible beasts. It’s this element that makes Eden Log more of a horror/sci-fi movie than a straight sci-fi one, joining the ranks of such ignored gems as Pandora and Cargo. The mutant make-up/costuming is hard to criticize because the camera never stops shaking and giggling long enough to get a decent look at the creatures. I get they were going for horror-in-the-shadows, but it’s ok to have enough light to at least see who is fighting who.
Thanks for nothing, Mister Director.
As our nameless man (and the botanist) climb higher through the levels of the complex, they also encounter security forces from the surface, men with guns and body armor who are attempting to quell a worker riot and keep the mutants from escaping. Our hero has a couple of nerve-wracking scrapes with these men but always manages to escape. The security forces are pretty deadly with the mutants they encounter, killing them on sight, and are also tasked with murdering any surviving members of the staff, supposedly to keep quiet what has been happening down here. Nothing is explained well (or at all) so you’re tensely nervous all the time why watching this movie, you never know who is trying to kill who and why. It’s too damned dark, the English dubs are terrible, and whoever edited the action scenes clearly flunked out of film school, but it is strangely exciting to watch for the first time.
When the camera stays still, some nice visuals.
Once to the surface, alone again as the botanist has fallen prey to the infection along the way, our hero discovers the startling truth of his own existence. He is not a simple worker drone after all, but the head of security for the entire complex and one of the most powerful men on the planet. Before our opening scene, he went down into the bottommost levels to figure out what has happening and somehow became lost and amnesiac. And then the infection set in, though it affects him differently than others for some never-explained reason. As he stands before the wall-length computer displays in the security headquarters, he finally understands the terrible truth (that he’s in a low-budget Frenchy festival-circuit art-house film and his career is now ruined…).
Still very little color.
The final scene is our hero realizing that the tree has to stop feeding on humans if the cycle of dreadful dependence is to be broken and the planet is to heal itself. So he “hooks himself into the plant” and uses his “special sauce” to cause it to “overload” and turn everything verdant and lush. I guess, this really is a damn confusing movie. In a lot of ways this film was inspired by the mysterious underground bunkers of Lost (it was shot in 2007) and like that show, there are many more unanswered questions than explanations in the end. I kinda dig that, it’s definitely one of those movies that leaves a lot up to your imagination.
So, to sum it up, Eden Log is a pretty annoying movie, filled with nonsensical scenes and pointless subplots, filmed by a drunk hobo and edited by a guy who has watched way too many dubstep videos. But, and I cannot stress this enough, it’s incredibly original and unique, both in terms of the plot and in the way all the characters interact with each other. You’ve never seen anything like it before, I assure you, and I doubt you will anytime soon. Look around for this one if you can (my copy I got from Blockbuster for a dollar when they were closing), it’s worth the time and effort.
Even he doesn‘t understand what happened here.
Written in February 2015 by Nathan Decker.
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