Volume One in the Dark Matter series of film shorts is an ambitious attempt to deliver provocative sci-fi to eager audiences. The five stories in the series are all introduced by George Noory, better known for his late-night radio show Coast to Coast. Noory’s Dark Matter seems to be inspired by Rod Serling and his legendary Twilight Zone television series, which brought us unforgettable classic short stories, some of which were almost parable-like in their simplicity.
The five stories included in the first volume vary widely in their technical wizardry. The German entry, Deus in Machina, is the flashiest of the five. It features a future world in which computers monitor our every movement and keep track of our “Brownie points”, which the society of the time calls social points. A humorous note is inserted as his vehicle is crushed when its parking meter expires. Will he be able to wrest a modicum of control over his life, and just watch old movies on his antique DVD player in peace? One ought to put the Ricke brothers, makers of this film, on the Ones to Watch List; let us hope they get the chance to do a feature-length film soon.
But the most intriguing entry, in my opinion, is the low-budget Blank Pages. (It is so low-budget, it is in black and white.) Four characters in an unfinished story languish in their own twilight zone, (my apologies, Rod). They wonder why the author has abandoned them, what they should do. Much later some of the characters abandon the setting, a smoky pool hall, for other stories. The author visits the pool hall to find only one character remaining, and tries to explain he just had a bad case of writers’ block. What sort of crime has he committed against fiction, and what will his penalty be?
Another entry, Ten Seconds to Midnight, looks at what happens to an aficionado of the belief that the midnight of Dec. 21, 2012 will usher in a new world of peace, harmony and the rights of man. What will he do if nothing happens???
The Enfolding is a film version of the short story “Paradox of Order” by Gyula Hernadi. It falls into the category of time-warp stories. In this one, a woman tries to find out what happened to her husband, who disappeared while in space investigating anomalies. She finds her husband’s watch in a tub of water at home, and sends a friend to a watchmaker to fix it. The watch goes back in time no matter which way you turn the stem winder.
The episodes come with optional questions for discussion if you should choose to use this series in classroom or interest group settings. Dark Matter is an intriguing though uneven project but with lots of potential. Here’s hoping that he finds lots of quality entries for future volumes of the program.
“Dark Matter, Volume One: The Hands of Fate”, hosted by George Noory, 2009, Dark Matter Films Inc. Various film-makers and directors.