Picking away at the layers that separate genuine memories, suggestion and flat-out brainwashing, Extraction proves a nifty little sci-fi thriller that, sadly, will never get the audience it probably deserves.

Such is the fate of the low budget flick I guess – while films like Inception (which this will invariably be compared with), with their bloated budgets and marketing campaigns, gain mass recognition and mass consumption, thought-provoking fare like this slips through the cracks.

But that really shouldn’t be the case, so hopefully this very positive review will redress the balance in some way.

Sasha Roiz, better known for his appearances in TV fare such as Grimm and Warehouse 13, takes the lead here, playing Thomas Jacobs, a brilliant engineer/scientist.

Jacobs has somehow, after years of work, come up with a machine that allows him to enter the mind of a patient and ‘sit in’ on their memories.

The scientist plans to use the device to help trauma victims, allowing them to access the memory that is causing them distress and attempt to work through it.

But, when the funding dries up, Jacobs is forced to look elsewhere to continue his research, leading him to the slimy, oily, duplicitous (aren’t they always?) Justice Department.

Naturally they don’t give a toss about trauma victims, instead wanting to use the machine to access the memories of alleged murderers who are furiously proclaiming their innocence.

extraBefore long, Thomas is strapped up to the device alongside Anthony (an excellent Dominic Bogart), who is thought to have gunned down his girlfriend.

But a bigger problem for Jacobs comes from the fact that his device still has a glitch or too and somehow the extraction (hence the title) from Anthony’s memories fail, leaving him trapped in limbo, forced to roam the supposed killer’s dream world while his lifeless body remains stuck, as if in a coma.

A bit of a bummer I’m sure you’d agree, especially when the film then jumps forward four years – with Thomas no nearer to escaping from his memory hell and returning to his wife and daughter (who has been born in his ‘absence’).

From there the film documents Tom’s desperate battle to escape, as he looks for a solution that may allow him to return to normality.

As stated right from the off, with all this talk of entering dreams and memories, it is inevitable that Extraction will be stood alongside Inception (or even 80s Dennis Quaid flick Dreamscape for that matter), when it comes to judgement time.

But, unlike those films, director Nir Paniry’s effort has virtually zero on-screen effects, big set-pieces or a star-laden cast.

What it does have though is a cracking story, terrific performances from the entire cast and a pace that slowly, but surely reels you in.

Roiz is on good form, an appealing mix of confusion, frustration and desperation as he comes to terms with his predicament.

The numerous scenes featuring Roiz and Bogart are also handled very well, with the dialogue-heavy, stripped down goings-on never anything less than excellent.

There is also solid support from the likes of Jenny Mollen as Tom’s wife Abbey, and Frank Ashmore as Anthony’s surly father.

But writer/director Paniry is the real star here, marking himself as one to watch with this, his debut feature.

I am sure there are those of you out there that will find Extraction too slow, or low on the thrills and spills that you often get from films of this ilk.

But that would be missing the point really, with the film sticking to the thought-provoking lo-fi vibe it offers right from the start.

Extraction is one of those flicks that really rewards you for paying close attention, and I urge you to seek it out.

EXTRAS: Sadly, none on the screener I received

VERDICT: [rating=4]

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.