Directed and written by #MatthewSteggles
Short Film Review by Jack Bottomley
When we think of dystopia films, we think of empty streets, collapsed roads, nature reclaimed industrial structures, baron lands patrolled my the mad remnants of mankind or a grey smog-coated world. We think of high production value cinematography and we think of a worn down, dirty and desperate cast (often with big beards) braving this shattered world to survive. However, some of the very best of the genre make an uncertain future very familiar to us, be it addressing the divide between the wealthy and the poor, man’s inhumanity to man or a pandemic-stricken society. And in the case of director/writer #MatthewSteggles’ The Blinded Ride, the future is paved cleverly by using the horror of the present but reversing its roles for the future.
Set in the winter 2049, the British public has been divided by extreme weather conditions which have left many homeless and desperate. Famine, disease and these unpredictable climates have forced many to seek a new home abroad. This story concerns a group of refugees aboard a truck, in particular thirteen year-old Sophie (#NiamhWalter) and her grandparents, as they worry about what comes next, tremble at the numerous boundary stop and checks, and combat the hopelessness of their situation.
This film, save for a rain strewn high speed view of the road and its passing vegetation, is set entirely in the back of the lorry as Sophie, her grandparents and a few other scared stowaways, sit as quietly as they can and hope for the best. This immediately brings us onboard the vehicle as a secret passenger ourselves, thanks to realistic cinematography by #LeeThomas, and the ensuing tension, build and violent turns in Steggles’ narrative is gripping, haunting and tragic.
This is largely down to the fact that, in spite of being set nearly 3 decades in the future, this is a reality being lived every day by many distressed people intentionally seeking safety. The fact the film reverses these roles impactfully anchors the strife of the unheard voices around us, and while the film’s other sub-plots (Sophie’s father, the natural disasters that broke Britain) remain quite undeveloped, this does add to the mystique of this future setting, almost as if these tidbits are word of mouth information we are hearing as a confused fellow traveller on this frighteningly unpredictable road.
In spite of the fact this has a global warming connotation to it rather than a viral outbreak, there is a timely nature to The Blinded Ride in our COVID-19 times. As news keeps being unveiled about the replenishment of nature in our lockdown absence, it only further proves the largeness of this issue should we keep ignoring it. Also, this film’s snapshot of a fearful and uncertain humanity is all too familiar at the moment, giving this further contemporary edge.
The acting is really excellent from the cast. Young Niamh Walter as lead Sophie greatly shows us the view of a broken world from young eyes, while #HelenWatson is strong and compassionate as her resilient nana, while #IainStuartRobertson leaves a memorable imprint on the film as her grandad. And there is great support offered by #LiamJefford, #HayleyMarieAxe and #TatanniaRenner as a group of frightened young people trying to reduce risk of catastrophe on what proves to be a terrifying journey into the uncertain.
Like Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men, this is a desperate future built on realistic fears and issues, as the plot flips situations and is a taut and compelling short feature as a result.