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Film Review: “At First Light” (2018) ★★★


We often hear about paranormal activities, supernatural power, aliens, unknown species that might be walking on this Earth that we know nothing about. Thanks to sci-fi movies, we have plenty of ideas to think about as our imagination draws a vivid picture. By watching “At First Light” by writer/director Jason Stone, you may never get the answers you’re looking for. It’s a decent teen sci-fi drama that leaves lots of questions answered. But at the end of the day, which movie does not do that? If it were easy, we would have never gotten the world we know as cinema.

“At First Light” follows Sean (Theodore Pellerin) and his always-in-trouble brother, Oscar (Percy Hynes White), who always gets into fights but when it comes to studying, he is proficient at distancing himself from it. Their grandma is ill, no longer able to move, and barely remembers them. Despite Sean struggling to manage the duty of being a father/mother to his younger brother, he sneaks in to a beach party where he meets Alex Lainey (Stefanie Scott), who he’s fond of. The two enjoy their time at the party, but shortly after a strange thing happens where Alex suddenly gets a strange power, and the same power worsens Sean’s health rapidly.

When the movie begins, Sean appears to be mature enough to take care of the entire family. Financially, he is surely unstable, but that does not stop him from fulfilling the mission he finds himself in, at his early age. Oscar does not help him much by creating more obstacles than eliminating due to his uncontrolled and temperamental behavior. Alex, on the other hand, is the only shining light for young Sean, and that becomes more obvious sooner than later when Alex becomes the target of police force and her supernatural powers that make many people ill.

Not trying to reveal much from the premise of the movie, it is fair to mention that Alex, after drinking, not a lot, finds herself drowning. As she prepares for an early departure, feeling as if the last sign of life is leaving her body, a strange light appears which brings her back safe and sound, but extremely dangerous. As the story unfolds, there’s never doubt about certain unknown creatures that for some reason have chosen Alex as their bridge to communicate with Earth, but what they are is not something you should hope to learn by the end of the movie.

That is the good and bad in “At First Light”, but it never hurts to have dramatic sequence of scenes or impressive performances delivered by the young cast. Theodore Pellerin as Sean, Percy Hynes White as Oscar, and Stefanie Scott as Alex do a fine job. Indeed, Jason Stone could have taken some other direction to please the wider audience, for instance, by delivering visually stunning effects. But his choice was to concentrate on the relationship between Alex and Sean, which is in a way, a love story I am sure you will find amusing enough to care about.

In conclusion, there’s nothing new in “At First Light”, yet you watch it as if it has something outstanding to deliver. Jason Scott, perhaps, realized that simplicity is key and tried to avoid all the overloaded clichés this movie could have fallen into as a trap. But it never happens. It never aims to load us with scientific discoveries or super intelligent dialogues, which is helpful enough for “At First Light” to not lose its shining light.

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