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By Michael Talbot-Haynes | April 4, 2023

In no time at all, the drugs will start taking you over in director Luke Momo’s science fiction horror hybrid Capsules. Back in 2018, chemistry majors Dev (Caroline Potter Shriver), Maya (Kate Pittard), and Ryan (Davis Browne) were up for days on black-market Adderall studying. They know the reclusive Jasper (Marcus Fahey) put together a badass study guide for the test they are cramming for. So Ryan lures Jasper out of solitude with promises of galactic weed and tacos.

On the way back to the apartment, the students come across an old man (David Dotterer) lying on the road. They help him to his feet, but he is slobbering and totally out of it, dropping his pill bottle. After seeing the horrible state of the old man, Ryan keeps the pills to take later as they must be really powerful. The others are game and nudge a smoked-out Jasper into trying some. Then Ryan starts foaming at the mouth. Dev, Maya, Ryann, and Jasper discover that if they stop taking the pills and come down from the mystery medication, they will convulse and die. So they sneak into a lab to study the compound to find an antidote. What they find only leads to more sinister and cosmic questions. Meanwhile, their stash is getting low.

Throughout Capsules, there is a steady countdown of how many doses are left before death. It brings to mind the great Bill Rebane’s masterpiece, The Alpha Incident, where a group of people infected by an alien organism has to stay awake, or their heads will explode. The tension created by the narrative doesn’t require a smidge of CGI. Instead, some incredible practical makeup effects by Ashley K. Thomas and Addison Thompson look like they are from a much more expensive movie, another parallel.

“…if they stop taking the pills…they will convulse and die.”

The script, written by Momo and actor Davis Browne, replicates the spirit of the classic Andy Prieboy song “Send in the Drugs.” Here we have a movie where people get bored and take drugs, just like folks have done since getting tired of the same old cave walls. The drug’s effects are potently portrayed via acting, camera angles, and lighting. I loved the sequence shot by Harrison Kraft, where the group lying on the ceiling shows the pills’ sensation. Momo also deploys ingenious uses for the eerie green glowing titles.

Capsules features performances that will hit your nervous system like a strychnine buzzsaw. Shriver’s parade of medicated bravado radiates druggie disdain of all boundaries. Browne is a much cooler doper character, but he has the advantage of writing the back-and-forths. He either knows someone just like his character, or maybe… His dialogue definitely walks the walk. Pittard is much more subdued, and it works like magic. Fahey is amazing in his mastery of anti-social delivery. As good as his character is written, the actor completely sells it gift-wrapped to audiences.

Like most great drug trips, the comedown on Capsules is a little uneasy. The ending is similar to those found in M. Night Shyamalan films, which means it is smart but will piss a few off for a few reasons. There is this potentially cool post-credit scene set in 1968 with someone sporting a haircut from two decades later. However, Momo stayed up late in the lab and made a top-drawer indie skin crawler. Get ready to microdose on a micro-budget.

Capsules (2023)

Directed: Luke Momo

Written: Luke Momo, Davis Browne

Starring: Caroline Potter Shriver, Davis Browne, Kate Pittard, Marcus Fahey, David Dotterer, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Capsules Image

"…will hit your nervous system like a strychnine buzzsaw."

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