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10.01.08

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Phaedra

Artifacts

One disc; Lionsgate; $23.99

Reviewed by Michael S. Gant


A young woman, Kate (Mary Stockley), has troubling dreams about her friends being stalked by their exact doubles, and then wakes up to learn that they really are being stalked by their clones. She tries to run, only to learn that a large chunk of transmitter technology lodged in her chest cavity is giving away her position. This, of course, necessitates some bloody, anesthesia-free home surgery. Eventually, a deeper secret about the fragility of human existence is revealed. This ultra-low-budget sci-fi feature from Belgium (although the actors and dialogue are English) relies on shaky close-ups as directors Giles Daoust and Emmanuel Jespers put the hand back in hand-held. The best trick is the incessant high-pitched clicking noise that the clones make—they sound like the giant bugs in Them!. The extended interview with the directors and producer Ernst Meinrath is a hoot as they explain how they rushed the whole project through in about four months (with a 12-day shoot) in order to get to the buyers' market at Cannes. They practically brag about not having a script. How did they pull it off? Three words: "Belgian tax shelter." However, no one explains why "artifact" is spelled with an "i" in the title but an "e" throughout Kate's desperate web searches.

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