Swarms Of Drifting Shadows Image

Let’s address the elephant in the room now. I watched the first half of the first season of Lost and promptly didn’t care for it. (That’s nothing, I watched the first half of the first episode of The Walking Dead and wanted all the humans to die asap). As such, while there are undeniable similarities with director Amir Ganjavie’s Swarms Of Drifting Shadows to that (in)famous J.J. Abrams show, they are only surface level based on my knowledge. If there are deeper connections that make this mysterious, cult-centric drama a full-blown rip-off, so be it.

A handful of passengers wake up after their plane crashes with little memory of what happened. As time passes and the group finds shelter in an abandoned building, some of them begin not to know who they are. Only Caesar (Rick Amsbury) never forgets so he decides to get to know everyone and write down why they were on the plane.

Eventually, Caesar is the only one with memory and becomes revered as a god amongst all the survivors. Well, that is all saved for Delilah (Beáta Imre), who learns the truth and vows to stop him. Is Caesar deliberately distorting the others’ perceptions, or is Delilah’s faulty memory making her misunderstand everything?

There is plenty to recommend in Swarms Of Drifting Shadows, but there are also several elements that don’t work. Its biggest hindrance is the voice-over narration that attempts to tie seemingly disparate scenes together. The narrator does a terrible job, often sounding exhausted. On top of that, the tonal whiplash of what he’s saying versus what is shown is often jarring.

“…Caesar is the only one with memory and becomes revered as a god…”

While Arash Azizi, Amir Ganjavie, and Mehdi Shirzad’s screenplay does an excellent job at feeling mysterious and strange, what it is trying to say remains opaque. Specific themes, such as a good man becoming corrupt while trying to do good, are obvious, but the final few minutes try to wrap things into real-world events. This does not work very well, feeling awkward and shoehorned in.

With all that being said, this thriller is still worth it overall. For one, it looks great. Pedro Miguez takes great care to ensure that every frame of Swarms Of Drifting Shadows is a delicate balance between light and shadow, mirroring the characters’ confusion and emotional state at all times. While the CGI is a bit dodgy, the design of the murderous three-headed dog works quite well.

On top of that, the actors are all quite good (excluding the narrator). As the egomaniacal Caesar, Amsbury brings a lot of gravitas and intensity. In his interactions with Delilah, he often tries to convince her that the others don’t want to know the truth of their predicament. The actor ably makes it seem like he’s selling that idea to himself just as much to her. For her part, Imre is charming and determined, making each move her character makes believable.

Plus, again, the entire affair is mysterious and thrilling. Ganjavie never lets the intrigue up, so even when the film stumbles at times, there is plenty for viewers to sink their teeth into. As such, the atmosphere is paramount to its success, and the filmmaker is able to keep that up as well.

Swarms Of Drifting Shadows is trying to say something profound, but just what that is gets a bit lost in the delivery. But, the actors all do what they can, the film looks stunning, and the mood is so intriguing that solving the mystery is most engaging. As such, while flawed, the movie is worth watching at least once.

Swarms Of Drifting Shadows (2021)

Directed: Amir Ganjavie

Written: Arash Azizi, Amir Ganjavie, Mehdi Shirzad

Starring: Rick Amsbury, Beáta Imre, Stella Dimovsky, Christopher Power, Richard Cole, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Swarms Of Drifting Shadows Image

"…solving the mystery is most engaging."

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