Bryan C. Taylor’s Battle at Beaver Creek is an end-of-the-world, man-against-something, sci-fi comedy, so be prepared. World War III has begun, and no one is safe. But who started this war: God, Man, or some cyber-engineered entity with a massive reach?
The tale begins in Shanghai, where a young woman scientist analyzes very puzzling data concerning the infiltration of wireless emotion function interfacing, or WEFI. The year is 2114, though looking at current fashion you’d think you were back in the 1960s. Drones circling the atmosphere are off course, and a subversive mind-controlling entity (WEFI?) causes billions of Shanghai citizenry to commit mass suicide, including the young woman scientist. Meanwhile, the Russians are coming (yet again), and militia factions are arriving in force at Beaver Creek, on the Yukon-Alaskan border.
The latter is where Taylor places us next. Geographically, the Yukon is magnificent, though the fashion is still 1960’s horror. It is here we meet Terran, a young man who’s on babysitting duty for his sister’s little girl. Terran, a militia man/freedom fighter, is struck by the barrage of news flashes of war and destruction and sets out to do what he must to help set things right. This, in spite of the pleas and insults of his sister, who argues that Terran is fighting a losing battle, contrived by conspiracy theorists such as himself. Walking alone in the fields, rifle/staff in hand for what seems an eternity, Terran is suddenly joined by a young farmer named Newman, who claims he’s searching for his father. But who is Newman, really, and can he be trusted? And even more disturbingly, who is the enemy?
Battle at Beaver Creek is one of those weird, cultish independent films that you may not think you’ll like, but eventually will. The storyline is a hybrid of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the Hughes brothers’ The Book of Eli, Guy Maddin’s Archangel, and the religious writings about the odd relationship between Moses and God in the Hebrew Bible. This area of “story-borrowing” prevalent among creative types may aggravate certain purists, but really, there are only so many ideas out there, and let’s face it, creators are often restricted by the socio-philosophical leanings of their time— which tend to repeat as frequently as fashion.
What’s incredibly interesting about Battle at Beaver Creek is that we can never be sure that what we’re viewing is really happening, or can be taken seriously. At times it seems that Terran and Newman are endlessly circling the same terrain, which in itself gets you thinking. And that’s precisely what makes Battle at Beaver Creek great; it makes you ponder the big questions and see life a bit differently, and with humor.
Of course, Battle at Beaver Creek is not without its flaws, such as too much lag time in some scenes, and some serious audio issues in others. Still, these problems can be fixed, and do not take away from the general intelligence and entertainment of this very good movie.
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