Soft Matter tells you right off the bat the kind of experience to expect from this movie. With psychedelic fish behind transparent credits while a heavy-synth theme plays in the background, you might be transported to the era of the low-budget 80’s sci-fi movie. There’s even a slight grain to the picture, and each credit pulses to the beat of the electronic symphony playing behind. I was transfixed. I almost didn’t realize when the movie had started, gazing mutely in a slight stupor from the soothing patterns it made in my brain.
If that sounded like gibberish to you, it kind of is, but is also totally the tone of this movie. Every time you think two characters might have a normal interaction they just veer into weirdness abruptly. Shoving tables, crying, yelling, any of these things could happen at any single moment, and they do happen, all the time. Disco dancing sludge monsters roam the halls, while two black teens look for haunted houses. At no point during this movie did I ever feel like I had a full grasp of what was going on. This is good in some ways, in that the sheer lunacy constantly happening on-screen was as fascinating as it was confusing, and bad in that it was hard to figure out what the plot was supposed to be.
Part of what sells the feel of this movie is how much of it is made in a way consistent with the style it attempts to replicate. Practical effects abound, often including various colors of goop, strange red liquids, and squirting prosthetics. These effects can be charming, and some are just downright weird, such as a Sea Goddess head floating in a janitor bucket, or a woman with yellow lobster claws covered in yellow detritus.
Despite having no discernible plot, Soft Matter is an entertaining homage to an era of strange filmmaking when innovation was key. The feeling that the filmmakers used whatever was at hand to make this movie, and just tried to cram it full of weird, awesome stuff, pervades every second. It makes you feel like maybe you should grab your friends and a camera and shoot something stupid of your own.
Soft Matter premiers on VOD 5/22 from Wild Eye Releasing.