When you’re breaking into feature development, there are, of course, some bumps along the road because nothing in life could possibly be that easy. This is certainly what director and co-writer Luke Momo (The Stamp Collector) and additional co-writer and co-star Davis Browne (The Stamp Collector) were facing. While the idea of Capsules is certainly engaging and interesting, its run time of 72 minutes certainly begs the question as to whether this was a short film that Luke had kicking around that he wanted to develop into a full feature. While this could have potentially been a killer tight short, the slightly dragged out version lacks a little conviction and prominence from its leading cast.
The film focuses on chemistry students Maya (Kate Pittard), Dev (Caroline Potter Shiver), and Ryan (Davis Browne), as they’re cramming for yet another, possibly redundant, round of finals for school. During their usual session of cramming, their usual concoction of drugs just isn’t hitting the spot it usually does. Upon going to their study session, Ryan and Jasper (Marcus Fahey) walk by a passed-out old man, who’s holding a mysterious vial of pills, which Ryan decides to keep in case the high gets dull and they need something more adventurous. They end up taking the mysterious drugs and they discover, unfortunately, that the pills are incredibly addictive and if they stop taking them, they quite literally die.
First and foremost, I am all for a movie that decides to throw logic completely out the window for the sake of suspending disbelief. However, having chem students take mysterious drugs seems a little too far-fetched. Regardless though, the plot does lend itself to explore a lot of things that are interesting and engaging. These explorations are developed to an extent, but they certainly needed to be fleshed out further, as did the character development.
One of the more interesting things though about Capsules is that the movie enlisted the help of Ashley K Thomas (Good Time) to do the practical effects on the film as it refused to rely on any CG effects, which brought forth an additional layer of intrigue and engagement for the audience. We’ve all been bombarded with the oversaturation of computer graphics in quite literally everything. It is refreshing to see something that uses practical effects and does so in such a successful manner. These effects not only fit the movie better, but bring to light the fact that sometimes, and often more times than not, practical is better than computer generated. Granted, not everything can be done practically, but for a movie like Capsules, it lends itself to such an incredible viewing experience which gives the audience something they’re not used to seeing and brings a new level of enjoyment to the film.
Where the film starts to lose its footing slightly is in its script co-written by both Davis Browne and Luke Momo. There is plenty to be explored and said within the social commentary of the film, but little is. What is explored is how each of the characters reacts to their predicament, which is essentially their death sentence. Both Kate Pittard and Caroline Potter Shiver deal with this conundrum differently, both using their talents extraordinarily to engage the audience with each of their reactions to the news that these pills they decided to experiment with now drastically affect the rest of, and in theory, end of their life.
While Luke Momo’s first outing as a feature director is mostly successful, it still leaves something for the audience to want to be tripping on. The film lacks the ability to flesh out the characters enough for the audience to be particularly perturbed about anyone’s outcome, but the performances from both Shriver and Pittard engage audiences to care about the characters to an extent. With a short running time, and characters and subplots that could’ve been further fleshed out, maybe a longer short film would’ve been better suited.
Available on VOD March 31st, 2023.
For more information, head to the official Cranked Up Films Capsules webpage.
Final Score: 3 out of 5.
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