Michael Ryan’s Interpreters: a C & Earth Chronicle—quantum 1 plays more like a science fiction thrillerthan a horror film, but the amount of gore is enough to satisfy any viewer’s bloodlust.
The film involves the Sullen community where the residents are slowly killed off, each one with a burnt eye as a calling card of the killer(s). Town’s sheriff Paul Culven’s (Manny Hernandez, Veep) investigation coincides with the arrival of former CID agent Mark Frost (Ace Marrero) and the town mayor’s (Christopher Kriesa) business deal to allegedly expand the town. Over his head, Culven reaches out to Mark to assist him. Their investigation uncovers a plot involving the C & Earth corporation that has links to Frost’s past.
Interpreters has a number of things that work in its favor. First is its strong cast of character actors. From the beginning, we become invested in the characters. As Mark tries to quietly live a new life in Sullen Community, he becomes acquainted with Sheriff Culven and his wife Liz (Sophia Medley) in their attempts to make him feel welcome. As more people are found murdered, Culven initially suspects Mark, but later begins to trust him.
The film also boasts spectacular cinematography by writer-director Ryan to convey the sense of futuristic world building the narrative requires. A majority of the story takes place at night. The film’s inky blacks levels and shadow detail increase the foreboding that anything may be directly outside the camera frame. In contrast, daylight scenes stand out with bursts of primary colors.
Interpreters is also not without its bits of social commentary. While Ryan explores the overarching corrupting power of big business on politics, he also inserts a confrontation scene between Sheriff Culven and another CID agent character named Reasonor (Erin Stegeman, Once Upon a Time), where she spouts of her distaste for law enforcement. While Reasonor’s commentary on cops doesn’t present anything new, it still feels relevant to current events.
Although it contains strong technical aspects, the film is not without its flaws. While the plot is engaging, the pacing slackens at multiple points. Clocking in at two hours, there are points where it feels editing could have been tightened to streamline the plot. Sadly, Interpreters loses momentum in its last half hour by trading its suspenseful leadup for SyFy Original Movie-like action sequences and inserting heavy-handed exposition to explain the mystery’s conceit.
Interpreters’climatic sequences do contain some satisfying moments of gore. One standout effect involves a character’s head being squashed underfoot like a rotten pumpkin. The other is a cheer-inducing shotgun blast to the face—the head pops like a balloon filled with blood—to signal the comeuppance of a despicable character.
For the most part, Ryan’s film provides enough entertainment to pass the time. But nothing particularly memorable happens to make the film stick in your memory. The full title suggests that Interpreters is the first of a multi-film series. Whether the other entries get made is anyone’s guess. If this first film gains enough popularity to develop a cult following, perhaps we will see the second part. Interpreters was intriguing enough for me that I would be open to see what further adventures the characters have.
Sean Woodard serves as the Film Editor for Drunk Monkeys and a Co-Producer of the faith and spirituality podcast, Ordinary Grace. Focusing on a wide variety of interests, Sean’s fiction, film criticism, and other writings have been featured in Los Angeles Review of Books, NonBinary Review, Horrorbuzz, Cultured Vultures, and Los Angeles Magazine, among other publications. He is currently a doctoral student at University of Texas at Arlington.