Martin Grof’s second feature Sensation has lofty ambitions. Firstly, the director himself has said that low-budget films (as this is) should be compensated by a big story. Additionally, he feels that all good movies should contain elements of sci-fi, mystery and thriller. Unfortunately, the attempt in this work to combine them all is, at best, overambitious.
The protagonist is postman Alex Cooper (Eugene Simon). He has turned to a DNA-matching service, run by the indiscreetly nefarious Dr Marinus (Alistair G. Cumming), to discover more about his long-lost father. Though Dr Marinus cannot find a match, he reveals that Alex has special qualities which he is keen to foster. Though reluctant to participate, Alex is forcibly taken to a country house research facility where he relents to undergo training that will hone his innate capabilities.
As his training progresses, though, the film gets lost in its futile efforts to add mystery and intrigue. At several moments, the training deliberately blurs the lines between reality and illusion. Unfortunately, it only serves to make the plot gratingly confusing. By the time the flick reaches its climax (where the plot threads, in this case, are loosely tied), viewers are apathetic to its dramatic conclusion.
Try as Simon might to hold viewers to the end with a fully invested performance, the supporting cast have been reduced to performing characters as flat caricatures because of the stilted dialogue or because they have been bereft of direction. Though Alex’s fellow trainees are supposedly gifted, they add little to the picture in terms of plot or effect. The female tutors Nadia (Emily Wyatt) and May (Jennifer Martin), who help to train the group, deliver most of their lines so stiffly as if to appear coolly menacing or aloof. In reality, this delivery makes them come across as so wooden that, when they provide exposition (which is a heavy amount), any clarity they can offer to the movie completely bypasses the audience. In contrast to these spiritless characters is the melodramatised Dr Marinus – a villain who is such a caricature that the audience is left stunned that Cummings has managed to resist the temptation not to precede his overstated laughs with a conspiratorial twiddle of his moustache.
As Sensation, overall, is so hollow, abstruse and unsatisfying, it is an irony that the predominant sensation generated from watching it is fatiguing indifference.
Sensation is released digitally on demand on 16th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Sensation here: