A quick and easy way to describe writer/director Nicholas Woods’ (Echoes of Violence) The Axiom would be The Mist in a forest. But while that’s close it doesn’t fully capture what the film is trying to do. It constantly plays with our perceptions as well as our expectations. It’s quite an undertaking for a first feature, but Woods makes a valiant effort.
McKenzie (Hattie Smith) is looking for her sister Marylyn (Maria Granberg) who disappeared while hiking. She brings their brother Martin (Zac Titus) and some friends along and heads into the woods. The first indication that this isn’t going to be so simple is her meeting with Leon (William Kircher The Hobbit, Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter) who tries to warn her of what is out there.
The woods it seems are filled with Axioms, portals to other dimensions. And the beings living there are not overly friendly.
On the surface, The Axiom has a lot going for it. There’s plenty of beautiful forest scenery that can just as easily be turned into a menacing wilderness for the film to unfold in. and the creatures and the violence they cause are well done practical effects. Their design, somewhere between Lord Voldemort and Creepypasta’s Rake in is also unnerving. That certainly adds to the film’s effectiveness and enjoyability.
But where The Axiom stands out is on a slightly deeper level. The creatures are able to see into the humans’ minds to at least some degree and can use their thoughts and feelings against themselves and the others. It also means we’re never sure who is under their influence, who isn’t and our perceptions of these keep shifting. This leads to some fairly twisted scenes as various versions of reality begin to overlap.
In the end, The Axiom owes as much to The Endless and Digging Up The Marrow as it does to Stephen King. And if that sounds like a pretty wild mix, you’re right, it is. And while it has some rough spots and loose ends it’s still an impressive and promising debut feature.
The Axiom is currently available on VOD.