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ASSASSINAUT (2015) – Boston Underground Film Festival

Drew Bolduc burst onto the indie film scene in 2011 with The Taint, a hyperviolent tale of tainted water that turns the battle between the sexes into a literal, blood-soaked war. It turned heads, stomachs, and got plenty of notice. He followed it up with Science Team in 2014, but since then has worked mostly as an effects guy, most notably on Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High Aka Vol. 2.

Now he’s back with Assassinaut. Shot in 2015, it makes its US premiere at this year’s Boston Underground Film Festival. It’s another tale set in a less than Utopian future, but this one isn’t nearly as brutal. Ten years ago Earth defeated alien invaders but at a terrible cost. Washington DC was nuked, decimating the alien forces, but at a huge human cost as well.

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Now, as a distraction from a last-ditch offensive by the remaining aliens and human collaborators four teens, Sarah (Shannon Hutchinson), Charlie (Jasmina Parent), Tom (Johnathan Newport), and Brooke (Yael Haskal), are flown to the Presidential Space Station, the first kids in space. They arrive just in time to be caught in an assassination attempt on the President (Irene Santiago). Escaping to the nearby planet, the four must now make their way across this alien landscape and rescue the President (Irene Santiago).

The future looks very familiar in Assassinaut. Earth, in fact, looks just like it does now and the inside of the space station looks like a warship, (those scenes were filmed onboard the USS Wisconsin). This isn’t an effects-heavy film, though the shots of the exploding space station are impressive. There’s also a fairly impressive gore gag that pretty much comes out of nowhere.

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And that brings me to the question people will be asking. Is this another gorefest like The Taint? No, it isn’t. The first hour, in fact, is almost like The Goonies in space, or maybe Prospect. Then it turns much darker in the last act. I’m wondering if this radical shift in tone is what kept the film on a shelf for so long.

By the final fade-out, Assassinaut has gone from a light adventure to a grim sci-fi horror hybrid and then to just plain weird. It’s done with style and enthusiasm, but it’s never quite cohesive enough to be a full success. Fans of the director will want to see it, others may want to wait until it turns up on a streaming service.

Assassinaut will be playing the festival circuit after it’s screening in Boston. You can check for dates near you on its Facebook page.

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