Kevin Margo’s short film Grounded is a brilliant sci-fi experience, with more than a hint of mindbending ambiguity. What starts off as the aftermath of a spaceship crash landing on a barren planet turns into a spiritual journey of neverending life looping in, on and around itself, unfortunately converging and piling up on the moment of death. Or is it a cycle of rebirth?
After a survivor (Derron Ross) of the crash wakes up to find his space helmet cracked, he removes the non-damaged mask of a fellow astronaut, who was not so lucky, as a replacement, only to reveal that the person whose mask he has now “borrowed” is actually himself. And if that’s not enough to mess with your head, our newly helmeted survivor suddenly gets a glimpse of what happened to his alternate self. But is it what happened, or what is happening?
I had to watch the short multiple times, and I’m still not entirely sure of my own interpretation. That said, it doesn’t matter whether I’m still a bit iffy on what it all means, because it’s so damn good in its execution. The film is just gorgeous to behold and a sci-fi dream to experience, and all within the trappings of a contemporary silent film.
Filmmaker Kevin Margo has shown that he has the talent to tackle some quality sci-fi and really make you think, and I want more. I mean, this is eight minutes long, and it’s a brilliant eight minutes. And while so many sci-fi shorts spend inordinate amounts of time with back story or exposition just so that you have an understanding of the basics, Grounded achieves an immense amount of drama without really saying a word. Again, it’s open to intense discussion, interpretation and scrutiny (and I’m leaving out more of my theories behind what it means solely because I don’t want to give away the whole short in the review), but what more can you ask for from a short?
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