Credit: Lionsgate
Before We Vanish by Steven Warner Film

Warning | Agata Alexander

October 29, 2021

Warning: Warning is an absolute disaster.

An existential slice of sci-fi, Warning is the kind of film that practically begs for a thorough post-mortem. It’s quite obvious that something went horribly wrong after production wrapped, starting with the fact that the onscreen credits list this as “A Cybill Lui Eppich Film,” yet Eppich is merely a producer, one of a staggering 20. The film was actually directed and co-written by Agata Alexander, making her feature-film debut, and who is probably none too happy with the end result — this could not have been the filmmaker’s ultimate vision. Warning is a series of short films that address big questions regarding humanity, mortality, religion, sexuality, gender — basically anything that might pop up in an intro-level humanities course at your local liberal arts college. But instead of going the anthology route, the film has taken its various storylines and haphazardly thrown them into a blender, resulting in a vile concoction that makes little to no sense; more than anything, the film feels like somebody fast-forwarding through an entire season of Black Mirror over the course of 85 minutes, occasionally stopping whenever the imagery seems the least bit appealing. Some of the stories that play out here last only a few minutes, while others take up at least 20, and there’s no rhyme or reason as to how the footage is paired or presented, as the stories here only rarely inform each other. The only plot thread that is present throughout the film’s entire running time is one in which “space janitor” Thomas Jane is left floating in the dark reaches of our universe after a freak lighting storm sends him hurtling from the satellite which he was servicing. The film proceeds to venture onto a greenscreen set every ten minutes or thereabouts so that we can hear Jane bargain with God and come to terms with the fact that he is a shitty father.

Other storylines, meanwhile, are introduced and abandoned so abruptly that it is only upon reflection that we realize that short’s conclusion has already come and gone; everything feels so inconsequential that it is near impossible to tell the difference. When entirely new characters played by Annabelle Wallis and Alex Pettyfer are introduced at the film’s halfway point, it’s easy to regard the development as a tad wrong-headed; when the same thing happens literally two minutes before the end credits hit, it’s safe to assume that the editors gave zero thought to how any of this was going to play to the casual viewer. It certainly doesn’t help matters that the movie is a tonal mess, with comedic bits butting heads with scenes of sexual assault that are seriously ill-advised when they’re not outright offensive. Perhaps there is some thematic connection between society’s overreliance on technology in the worshipping of an Alexa-like device that is literally called God and the stalking of a lover through futuristic means, but that doesn’t mean they can co-exist peacefully. By the time the film heads into Cronenbergian body-horror territory and first-person POV, it seems like nothing more than a desperate ploy to shock. It’s obvious that the production roped in its random cast of B- and C-listers simply because all of the actors only had to shoot for a few days — the film even features arthouse commodity Tomasz Kot, of Cold War fame (Patrick Schwarzenegger probably had less pressing engagements). Put bluntly, Warning is very definition of a clusterfuck, the kind of movie whose existence is so perplexing that viewers will be liable to utter the exact words on which the film ends: “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Published as part of Before We Vanish | October 2021.