Web shows are where it’s at and more now than ever it’s the platform for filmmakers to collaborate, create and share the products that they want to see, with complete autonomy.
Horizon hails from South West England – in this case, the story is set in Bristol (because why the hell not?) and as far as science-fiction disaster movies go, this has all the right elements of a decent one.
The lives of five people are forever changed when a mysterious alien ship appears on the skyline over Bristol. It’s intentions unclear, the disparate group attempt to flee the city and reach loved ones, but their efforts are impeded by a city in panic, looters, and the threat of military attack. As they battle to stick together, loyalties and relationships are tested, and an even larger question remains: who are these mysterious visitors and why are they here?
From the 1st episode “Arrival” – an implosion of pure chaos immerses the audience into a hair-raising scene in the midst of an alien invasion. It’s short, impactful and like the episode title gets straight to the action, as we meet four of the main cast members, as they try to make sense of the sudden terrifying turn of events surrounding the arrival of a UFO.
Step up Stephen, Nicole, Chloe and Dan. The not so remarkable group of… friends? family?… it’s not exactly clear from the off just what their specific connection are, and there’s really not that much time to explain in the midst of an invasion. Does it matter? Not at the moment, but I’m sure the relationships and dynamics will come into focus and scratch a little deeper, down the line, if we’re expected to care for them. There are some tropes worth flagging that hold up admirably against the conventions of the a-typical sci-fi genre movie. We have the invaders: so far a imposing spacecraft, looming over the city. And rightly so, the actual life-forms (if there are any) are kept under wraps (so far through to episode three) to hike up the fear factor in the audience’s imagination.
We also have: the likable but flawed alpha male, Stephen; sure to redeem himself at some point and save the ones he loves from being pulvarised by lasers… or something. Then there’s Nicole. The hard-nosed and a little self-centred woman (when some opportunists steal her hand bag in the midst of a car wreck, it’s her precious Louis Vuitton not the hovering ship she’s concerned about) – I’m sure she’ll come to value the importance of friendship and loyalty – or die trying. Chloe – the easy on the eye ingénue. She has ‘future badass’ come the series end written all over her – either that or she’ll kick the bucket, running upstairs or into some enclosed space/into a woodland where she will meet her untimely but brilliant death… crying. And lastly we have Dan, the boy wonder, I think. He’s smart, seems to say the right thing at the right time, and more importantly echoes what the audience should be thinking – especially when said audience feels compelled to scream at the others.
What’s great about Horizon, is that quite early on in the series the writer/s recognise these often used character traits and points them out, laughs at them and then goes out of its way to continue to honour them. It’s little touches like these throughout that make the show genuinely fun to watch, there’s a sort of endearment to its honest approach.
Admittedly, as a short web show, it clearly has budgetary constraints that are unavoidably present on-screen. But on the whole, this really is an impressive effort for a medium so often dismissed in the tv and film production world. Three episodes in (side note: episode three brings in some very strong additional characters that I’m looking forward to seeing develop as the show goes on) and I was suitably impressed and able to overcome my initial superficial preconceptions. In fact any minor shortcomings become the shows admirable strengths – because at the centre is a good solid story, of human survival in the face of uncertainty. I look forward to seeing what’s actually lurking on the horizon, and if Stephen and co will actually come face to face with it…
All ten episodes are being released on youtube. Catch up and watch the show HERE