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The Raider Voice

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Movie Review | Arcadian

RLJE Films

“Arcadian” is the most recent addition to the oh no, the world ended and we’re the only humans left movie genre. While this kind of genre is arguably saturated with countless films and series, “Arcadian” stands out as an independently-spirited family drama that is sure to leave you both terrified of the creatures on the screen and with a warmness in your heart from the characters’ family dynamics and close bonds.

Twins Thomas (Maxwell Jenkins) and Joseph (Jaeden Martell) live with their father Paul (Nicolas Cage) in a post-apocalyptic world where the reason for the apocalypse is unclear. While Joseph busies himself with his latest inventions – learning how to drive the car he’s just engineered and researching the creatures lurking outside – Thomas spends time with Charlotte (Sadie Soverall), a girl who lives nearby with her well-off parents. When Thomas doesn’t arrive home on time one day, a fast-paced thriller ensues showing the importance of family and most of all, brotherhood.

Despite not having a blockbuster budget (the film’s low-budget was hinted at by cast members during the film’s March 11 premiere at South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival), this movie features a blockbuster-like cast. Martell is a seasoned actor when it comes to the shy, intellectual teen archetype (like in “IT”, “Y2K”, “Metal Lords”, basically every character he plays) while Jenkins thrives in the post-apocalyptic world, especially after 3 seasons of “Lost in Space”. Fans of Cage should be warned that while his name appears first on the call list, Martell and Jenkins (with support from Sadie Soverall) fully carry this feature. It’s nice to see a big-name actor supporting such a young cast, something I’d like to see more of in future films.

While the plot of the movie is standard and nothing particularly notable, the movie finds its charm in its monstrous creatures that could best be described as resembling four-legged giant goblins with machine gun-like screeches (not for the faint of heart) and claws that terrorize the family at night. It’s hard to know exactly what these monsters look like: they’re revealed in fast glimpses, almost as if they’re too frightening to fully show. Director Benjamin Brewer revealed at SXSW that he created and animated the monsters through Blender, a free online software used for 3D designs.

Creating a film’s special effects on a free platform from a standard laptop is no easy feat. What’s so beautiful about Arcadian is that it embraces a return to the basics. Through his DIY-style monsters and special effects, Brewer reminds his audience that anyone with enough dedication and drive can create the art they want, even if they don’t have the impressive budget of blockbuster movies. 

In an age where ticket sales for indie films have been decreasing while blockbusters take over, it’s a nice reminder that filmmakers like Brewer are embracing a DIY style of filmmaking all the while garnering a positive reaction from the crowd.

Different from other popular apocalyptic movies like “2012”, Brewer merely uses the apocalypse as a backdrop to a story that’s actually about family, boyhood, and resilience. Aspiring filmmakers should take notes because Brewer made all the special effects on a free laptop software. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

This film was viewed at the SXSW Film Festival. Arcadian hits American theaters on April 12, 2024.

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About the Contributor
Sara Gelrud
Sara Gelrud, Editor-in-Chief
Sara Gelrud is a senior and the editor-in-chief for "The Raider Voice." This is her second year as a full staff member but has been a contributing writer since her sophomore year. Along with the newspaper, Sara is the editor-in-chief of "Reflections", the literary and arts magazine. Sara leads the Book Club and the Jewish Student Union and is excited to grow as a leader for "The Raider Voice." You can see Sara's full digital journalism portfolio here!

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  • K

    Kate BrewerApr 8, 2024 at 9:09 pm

    very informative article will be sure to see the movie🤓🔥

  • M

    Mia CarrascoApr 8, 2024 at 8:11 am

    queeen of movie reviews! #nicolascageslays