Grief is a powerful feeling. It can overpower all human emotions and leave you virtually crippled. How you handle this trauma is a distinctly personal thing. There’s no right or wrong answer and the only common denominator is perhaps time. In A Monster Calls and I Kill Giants, grief is depicted as the titular monster. One that can only be bested by facing your greatest fears. In A.T. White’s feature debut, Starfish, he takes things a step further.
After the death of her closest friend Grace (Christina Masterson), Aubrey (Virginia Gardner) is wracked by grief. Her demise is closely followed by a mysterious signal which opens up a doorway and unleashes an apocalypse on Earth. Believing she’s the last person alive and fearing the strange alien creatures outside, Aubrey is trapped in Grace’s apartment. The only clue to her survival is a cassette left behind after her best friend’s death: “This Mixtape Will Save the World”.
Starfish is a beautifully realised meditation on grief, loss and suffering. Gardner plays the role just right. Regret mixed in with wonder, fear and determination. Given the budgetary constraints White was working with, it’s an absolute marvel. The dreamlike visuals are almost hallucinatory, an impressive indie rock soundtrack cuts to the quick and an original stringed score heightens each moment. Starfish is a lo-fi cerebral sci-fi drama focused on an unlikely and complex protagonist.
Starfish is released on VoD by 1091 on 28 May.