Rumor From Ground Control
Review by Mark Schwab
October 2nd, 2018
A local investigative television reporter stumbles into a massive conspiracy involving astronauts, illegal experiments, a shuttle disaster and cosmic rays - and that is just scratching the surface I think - in writer/director Seaton Lin's intriguing but ultimately unwieldy sci-fi thriller RUMOR FROM GROUND CONTROL.
Lin's film is not an easy one to break down but it mainly revolves around our intrepid reporter Erika Grasen (Lexi Moller) as she doggedly unspools the layers after she's covertly given some video evidence on a flash drive by a guy named Vance (Marc Anthony Samuel). The flash drive seems to implicate that some American astronauts weren't just accidentally killed on a fateful mission a few years ago by some kind of system failure. In fact, it was more like a controlled experiment conducted by something called The Foundation For Future Earth. As Erika and her cameraman get closer to the truth, they begin to uncover a slimy money trail, payoffs to keep key people quiet and finally running for their own lives.
What I've just written above only covers the most key plot outlines as Lin throws a lot of other characters and sideways twists at us during the 86-minute runtime. In fact, he keeps introducing new people (with supposedly critical parts to play in the plot) even an hour into the film when I was still trying to keep all the machinations straight. The strange thing is when I reflected back on all of the plot twists, they were pretty cool ideas but they don't land as they should because the plot becomes more confusing and convoluted instead of more absorbing and suspenseful. I must admit that I was never bored during the film as it played out but I also was never engaged on an emotional level with any of the characters. As the reporter, Grasen does...ok. Considering the heavy lifting she has to do, she hangs in there but really only has one emotion throughout the film - furrowed concern and a little frustrated. The other performances are also similar - everyone is...ok, but they don't create strong enough individual character traits that allow them to become 3-dimensional people. They all stay within their assigned roles decently enough but get so overwhelmed by the massive plot that you can't really identify with them.
Even with all that though, RUMOR FROM GROUND CONTROL does have impressive production values for an independent film - locations are well-chosen, most of the cinematography makes great use of light and menacing shadow and the individual scenes themselves are smoothly blocked and directed. I will also reiterate that the ideas presented here are very original and had the potential for a juicy thriller - there are simply too many of them to be organized coherently for an audience to really get swept up into. Considering this is Seaton Lin's feature directing debut, RUMOR FROM GROUND CONTROL is a very impressive achievement, brimming with true ambition that should hold your attention all the way through (another plus for sure). It's probably a film that benefits from multiple viewings but I'm just not 100% sure that you'll make that effort.
You can check it out on Amazon here (Prime members watch for free):