The Earth faces imminent devastation when a strange moon-like mass appears in the atmosphere in Harinarayan Rajeev’s short film Spirits of the Falling Sky. As Krom, the name given to the moon/planet/whatever, gets ever closer to colliding with the Earth, strange incidents begin occurring across the globe. Beyond nightmares and other issues affecting everyone, people are starting to see ghosts, and for the sake of this tale, a curious detective follows the findings of a professor who was investigating the infamous paranormal activities that cleared out the Latchkey Apartments.
Part sci-fi tale, spiritual adventure and spookfest in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft and contemporary Japanese horror, Spirits of the Falling Sky covers a lot of ground. Strong visual effects-work and sound design, coupled with a mostly energetic edit, keeps things enticing from start to finish, even if the reliance on exposition narration and weak character development sometimes inspires less personal engagement.
Because, while our detective has a self-imposed mission to find out what’s really going regarding Krom and the increase in paranormal developments, so he can explain to other people what is really happening, he doesn’t seem to exist as much of anything beyond that goal and curiosity. Thus, he’s less a character that can develop in any direction so much as the plot device that spurs the narrative forward. We don’t care about him so much as we connect to a shared curiosity over where things are going. He could be anybody; he’s unimportant and interchangeable save for his curiosity.
Again, though, the film keeps things interesting throughout with its composition and visual effects-work, and when things take a turn for the more sinister and paranormal, the sound design steps forward to deliver even more punch. When the credits rolled, it is revealed that much of the interior footage of the film was shot with an iPhone or Nikon’s consumer CoolPix camera, which makes the resulting footage that much more impressive; it all comes together to match the interior aesthetic of a decaying, haunted environment elevated by the visual effects layered within, while the exterior footage is affected to feel other-worldly even in the most common of compositional moments.
One technical note to make involves the subtitles. While the film is in English, it includes subtitles, I’m guessing, to help the audience understand the dialogue in the off-chance the accents are hard to understand. What’s interesting about the subtitles is that they periodically resort to text message-friendly shorthand, such a substituting “ur” for “your.” Additionally, contractions often don’t have apostrophes; you can understand what’s going on and what’s being said, but I’ve never seen a film with subtitles that appear to have been created as if someone was loosely transcribing for and by text message.
Overall, I think Spirits of the Falling Sky is entertaining and pleasant to the eye, and the narrative has enough of a spiritual and philosophical angle to it for the brain to chew on for a while too. Character development leaves more than a bit to be desired, and there’s those subtitles, but the rest of the positives in the piece pick up the slack.
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