SXSW Review: ‘Prospect’ is a Visually Stunning Sci-Fi Thriller

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prospect sxsw film
Sophie Thatcher and Pedro Pascal in PROSPECT. | Credit: Film Still from PROSPECT

One of the premieres I was most excited about at this year’s SXSW Film Festival was the low budget sci-fi thriller, Prospect. Written and directed by Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl, Prospect is a feature film based on their 2014 short film of the same name. It went on to win the Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award at the SXSW Film Festival Awards, which is presented to “a filmmaker whose work strives to be wholly its own, without regard for norms or desire to conform.”

Living in small shoddy pod attached to a larger spacecraft, widowed father Damon (Jay DuplassThe Mindy Project) and his teenage daughter Cee (Sophie ThatcherThe Exorcist series) release from the ship one day to travel to a practically abandoned moon on a treasure hunt. Damon was hired by a group of ruthless mercenaries to locate organisms native to the planet and retrieve valuable crystals found within them. The air and plants are extremely toxic, hence the practically abandoned part, so suits and meters must be worn at all times. Shortly after landing, Damon and Cee meet Ezra (Pedro PascalGame of Thrones) and his partner and things go from bad to worse for everyone.

The always brilliant Pedro Pascal transforms Prospect into a sci-fi/western mashup with his Jesse James meets John Wayne performance. Ezra is like a jaded rogue cowboy in the Wild West, doing what he he needs to do to survive but still has a conflicting nature at times. He and Cee make a tensely captivating team-up that worked really well, even though they’re such an unlikely duo. This is Sophie Thatcher’s first lead performance in a feature film and she showed no signs of intimidation. Let’s hope we see her in more lead roles in the near future, because she carried the weight seamlessly.

It was announced at the screening I attended that Aidan Vitti, the film’s costume designer, was in attendance for the Q&A after the film. It was a bit surprising since this portion typically features the cast, directors, and/or producers. However, after seeing the film, it made sense. The set, props, and costumes are so fantastically done that they deserve their own spotlight next to the cast. I commend the film for adding a big dose of realism to such a futuristic film by forgoing the usual ultra-sleek-out-of-this-world designs we typically see in sci-fi space adventures. Cee and Damon are what we would consider blue-collar, and their equipment matches their means.

Prospect may not have had the budget of an epic sc-fi blockbuster, but that didn’t hold the crew back even a little. The acting was phenomenal, the props were well-crafted, and the set was visually stunning. If you’re a sci-fi fan, there’s no doubt you’ll find a lot to love with this film.

Check out our 2018 SXSW coverage here!


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