Monochrome: The Cromism
Review by Mark Schwab
June 10th, 2019
In a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future, a deadly virus has ravaged society to the point where it is hanging on by its fingertips. Our MAD MAX-style loner Issac (Joshua Bangle) narrates his introduction while wandering through a desolate landscape. Issac intimates that he is a fugitive, desperately trying to lay low from the hordes of folks that want him either dead or possibly dissected. The problem for Issac is that he is a "Hue" and possibly Patient Zero for the virus. What is keeping him alive but hunted? Color. Issac is literally in color while all around him is a world of black and white and steel grays. So, color sticks out. It's different. Which to the ignorant mind means that it must be the cause of all things bad. Therefore it's a threat and must be destroyed or controlled (sound familiar?).
These beginning images have a wonderfully stark/high contrast look that gets your attention immediately. I was genuinely intrigued by the idea of PLEASANTVILLE re-imagined as a sci-fi/thriller and writer/director Kodi Zene's MONOCHROME: THE CHROMISM does not lack for high-concept ideas. Unfortunately, after the strong 10-minute opening, we flash back to the past to how this all started and pretty much stay there, causing the film to lose some of its confidence.
In the past we learn a lot more about Issac before he became a "Hue" but his backstory consists mostly of him planning to win over his girlfriend to marry him and his office friendships - not exactly the stuff of compelling sci-fi. There is a second plot line we cut to occasionally detailing the shady machinations of some kind of underground scientists who seem mostly responsible for the disastrous events. This plot feels more in line with the genre but the bad guys don't have any depth or details so they didn't come off very menacing. As these two storylines converge, Zene leans too heavily on talking heads exposition to keep things progressing which sometimes created the "talking killer" situation (i.e. like a James Bond villain that talks out his entire plan so Bond has enough time to escape instead of just shooting him dead).
Which is kind of a let down since there is solid filmmaking here considering the micro budget. For one thing, the movie looks damn good having been shot by writer/director Kodi Zene. Also, it zips right along with tight editing - again by Kodi Zene - and the 60-minute runtime doesn't really ever wear out its welcome. Zene even co-wrote the Brad Fiedel/Terminator-style score which adds nicely to the atmosphere.
The sci-fi/thriller idea is here, the "look" is here and, yes, real potential is here to expand the story. I think Kodi Zene should cede some of the creative functions to trusted collaborators (in the micro budget world, you gotta do what you gotta do but this effort should help attract good production talent), up his budget and let his well-crafted visuals continue to tell his dark tale. From what I gather online, this seems to be a "first installment" of more world building and I, for one, am curious to see what comes next.