Dead Slow Ahead
A freighter crosses the ocean. The hypnotic rhythm of its gears reveals the continuous movement of machinery devouring its workers: the last gestures of the old sailors’ trade disappearing under the mechanic and impersonal pace of 21st century neo-capitalism. Perhaps it is a boat adrift, or maybe just the last example of an endangered species. Although we don’t know it, the engines are still running, unstoppable.
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★★★★½ review by Michelle on Letterboxd
The average person is unfamiliar enough with how a ship works, let alone a massive freighter, that any decontextualized shot of its innards is about as natural to us as a spaceship- maybe even less, because I've definitely watched more movies with spaceships than boats in them. Dead Slow Ahead takes this idea and runs with it, utilizing simple shots and brilliant sound design to turn documentary footage of a cargo ship hauling its load across the ocean into a meditative sci-fi horror film about a doomed crew on a mission inside a haunted ship. If you've ever walked around an empty college building basement and imagined you were in the Nostromo, this is for you. And it's especially for you if you (like me) played through Dead Space about four times not because you especially enjoyed playing it, but because you just wanted to step into the Ishimura again and again.
★★★★½ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd
One of my most complex & layered
soundscapes I've ever experienced.
★★★★ review by Josh Hamm on Letterboxd
"...Without an ideological axe to grind, Dead Slow Ahead allows its form to take precedence, presenting life on board the ship as an aberrant manifestation of what is and is not real. This subtext of insignificance, or at least of the subservience of man to machine, may have political/social correlations, but the film does not dwell on them in order to convince the viewer of a certain perspective, but rather to submerge them in its rhythm until they are completely lost.
A voyage beyond reality, constructing an alien atmosphere of indiscernible sounds and sights, Dead Slow Ahead is a masterpiece of mood and almost approaches the ever ambiguous concept of “pure cinema”.
Reviewed for PopOptiq:www.popoptiq.com/viff15-dead-slow-ahead/
★★★★ review by dale ⚓ on Letterboxd
Anyone thinking of making a science fiction film should be forced to watch Dead Slow Ahead. Not only for its perfect visual aesthetic and transcendent sound design, but also for its stark, but unforced, depiction of human labor dwarfed by the enormity of its own consumptive technology, which is in turn dwarfed by the inescapable, yawning indifference of the universe.
Let’s take this freighter into space, baby!
★★★★½ review by Brian Williams on Letterboxd
It's probably not ideal to watch this out of the corner of your eye on a phone at work on the last day it's available on Mubi. But I'm very taken with the pacing, world, sound design, etc. Please find me a way to watch this all the time that doesn't involve buying a $375 institutional DVD...which is now a thing that I know exists.
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