The Origin held a screening during Fantastic Fest
The idea of luxury 45,000 years ago was different than what’s preferred in 2023. In prehistoric times, a nice warm cave and plenty of wildlife for hunting was more than enough to suffice. In Andrew Cumming’s feature film directorial debut, ‘The Origin,’ a small tribe of six people are trying to stake their claim in a new piece of land over 45,000 years ago, but they quickly learn they are not alone. Cummings addressed the Fantastic Fest crowd before the screening to recognize the uphill battle of making the film. It’s a prehistoric horror film shot in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in which the characters speak a fictional language. It doesn’t necessarily scream, “Greenlight!”
The film’s appeal comes mainly in the form of atmosphere. The vast empty landscapes feel like no one has ever set foot on these lands. As far as the eye can see, it is plains and vistas until night falls, when it suddenly becomes highly claustrophobic. Lit only by firelight, the tribe suddenly feels cut off from the land surrounding them – and it doesn’t help that screams and spooky sounds are coming from the darkness that envelops them.
Most of the scares come as clan members start getting dragged away, one by one. While the characters are scanning the dark to try and figure out exactly what it is that’s hunting them, the audience is also studying the darkness and empty space, waiting for something to appear. It’s a nifty trick, and Cumming can use the setting and sound design to his advantage. The group quickly loses faith in each other, and the tribe dissolves into chaos. As for the actual villain, we get the ‘Jaws’ treatment here, only seeing them sparingly and when necessary.
I give The Origin 3 out of 5 stars. While the setting and mood are effective, the pacing leaves something to be desired. I love a slow burn, but there just wasn’t enough substance here to keep interest at peak levels for the full duration of the film. However, it is an effective thriller with great atmospheric effects and sound design, but the pacing could be more consistent.