Octane (2003)
By: J.R. McNamara on September 26, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
21st Century (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. 86 minutes
The Movie
Director: Marcus Adams
Starring: Madeleine Stowe, Mischa Barton, Norman Reedus, Bijou Phillips, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Screenplay: Stephen Volk
Music: Orbital
Tagline: "Driven by Evil"
Country: UK
Octane, also known as Pulse, neither of which name suits, is a British film written by BAFTA winner Stephen Volk, and directed by the writer/director of the not entirely bad Long Time Dead, Marcus Adams. Starring Madeleine Stowe and Mischa Barton, it looks to be a nightmare-ish journey into the night with strangely dark characters in unusual situations.

It's not.

Octane tells tale of pill-popping divorcee Senga (Madeleine Stowe) and her unpleasant uptight Daddy's girl daughter Nat (Mischa Barton) who are on a long journey by car, so that Nat can receive her birthday present from her father, Merak (Samuel Froler ) now living six hours away from her. The relationship between Senga and her daughter is strained by the divorce, with Nat dumping all the blame on Senga. Whether this is true or not we never find out, such is the shallowness of their characters. The journey is long and is taking its toll on the two, as they see strange things along the highway, such as accidents where strange tourists photograph the wrecks and a baby in the middle of the road, and as they spend more time together, their tolerance level for each other drops.

After a near miss when Senga starts to fall asleep at the wheel, they stop to revive (and survive) at a truck stop, where they meet a hitchhiker (Bijou Phillips) who immediately puts Senga on edge, and rightly so. The hitchhiker eventually lures Nat away from Senga, and gets her involved in a blood drinking cult, founded by Father (Jonathon Rhys Meyers). Senga attempts to report the kidnapping to the police, but as it's investigated; it seems that Senga may be delusional, and a phone call to Merak proves that Nat has never even left his home… or has she?

So is Senga delusional, and her entire journey false memories brought on due to her pill popping, or is there a sinister cult behind everything that has happened? Whatever it is, can Senga trust the mysterious Tow Truck Driver (Norman Reedus) to help her, or is she on her own?

While this movie opens with a thrilling prologue, it quickly develops into a very stylized, David Lynchian/Twin Peaks like paranoia piece, that feels forced, and at times is so slow that I felt I was watching the timer on my DVD player to see how much longer I was to be subjected to its dullness. This film starts with ideas that it doesn't finish. Is it about drug addiction and memory? Is it about child stealing cults? Is it about 91 minutes too long?

The answer to the last question is a resounding YES!!

While the story was walking the tightrope between stupid and weird, the actors were just horrible. The normally fine Madeleine Stowe and co-star Mischa Barton's characters are so revolting and unlikable that anything bad that may happen to them, feels fully deserved. The director deserves to be recognized for the amazing settings and the way they are filmed… everything looks so cold and metallic, making this world seem even more unreal than the bizarre characters that reside within it, but then deserves a slap in the face for the most out of place drug induced dance sequence in the history of cinema.
This is a pure, crisp and clear 1.78:1 transfer, presented in 16:9.
Here we have a Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, which perfectly presents both the eerie emptiness of the locations, and the score by techo brothers, Orbital.
Extra Features
Not much in the special features department here.

There are text filmographies for Madeleine Stowe, Mischa Barton, Norman Reedus, Bijou Phillips and Johnathon Rhys-Meyers.

For some reason this is presented here as a special feature: a sneak preview of a film called Redemption…. Why is it here? Who knows!!
The Verdict
A confusing wanna-be, never was, that is the veritable definition of style over substance…get me out of here!!!
Movie Score
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