"Based on true physics events and black hole theories", the opening text purports.
The product of auteur Akcay Karaazmak's imagination - he writes, directs and co-stars - this Turkish film is a far cry from the genre cash-ins the country is most fondly remembered for. Don't go into this expecting the cheap thrills of DRACULA INSTANBUL'DA or the utter madness of SEYTAN (also referred to as TURKISH EXORCIST).
In comparison, REMINISCENCE is an extremely considered, innovative and professional film - albeit a low-budget one at that.
It begins with Miska (Michaela Rexova) and boyfriend Ackay (director Karaazmak) racing along a highway in their car, demonic figures flashing in front of them as they accelerate into the darkness. They're bound for Cesme in Turkey, having travelled from their home in Slovakia post-haste to explore a theory developed by scientist Miska.
It transpires that she has discovered a clash between magnetic fields in the air that cause time to stand still for a brief period every six years. During these happenings, black holes are temporarily created in the solar system which allows access from our world and into a parallel universe. Or something like that ... I never was any good at physics. Anyway, Miska has calculated that the next "time break" will occur very shortly, in Cesme.
The following morning, upon reaching Cesme, they pitch their tent up on a nearby beach and take a sabbatical from their plight. But time is already messing with them, it would seem. Strange things begin happening from the offset: Miska thinks she sees Ackay running away from her, but he insists he's stayed put and that it's her who's fled him; hideously disfigured creatures flash before them, only to disappear again in the blink of an eye; mysterious hooded figures taunt Ackay with their fleeting, distant presence.
By the time Ackay is getting freaked out by deathly visions of Miska accosting him with a skull face, the viewer is becoming disorientated too. Just what's going on and where will this all lead? To give any more away would be venturing into "spoiler" territory. Suffice it to say, things only get more bizarre - and nightmarish - as the moment for time to stand still and parallel universes to align grows ever closer...
A gritty lo-fi look works in the film's favour; aiding REMINISCENCE in its bid to at all times retain a distinctive visual quality. These colourful, grainy visuals are accompanied by a score that rarely ceases. It's a nicely atmospheric proposition from - you guessed it - Karaazmak, in which his single-finger piano playing evinces John Carpenter's soundtrack work, with the occasional bit of gentle industrial beats and ambient synths thrown in for good measure.
There are an impressive selection of locations and settings used, dictating along with the style that the film is always interesting to look at. Perhaps a little too interesting at times - the constant sharp-editing, rushes of fast-forward POV camerawork and tilted-angle photography do tend to draw attention away from any drama aimed at being elicited.
But, at 108 minutes in length, this is hard work. The storytelling is obscured to the point of being virtually incomprehensible (I'll admit it, I had the synopsis from the DVD's back cover to help me figure out what was going on). The non-linear, fragmented nature of the editing is no doubt true to Karaazmak's intentions of playing with our perceptions of time, but they just make matters even more confusing.
Then there are the performances. It was ambitious of Karaazmak to require himself and Rexova to speak in English, presumably to help the film appeal to an American audience. But it was also foolhardy: the acting is horrible. Something tells me that a Turkish film spoken in its native tongue and subtitled in English would've played much better. Thankfully the film isn't too heavy on the dialogue front.
REMINISCENCE: THE BEGINNING comes to DVD courtesy of SGL Entertainment (licensed through MVD Visual). The back cover advertises the disc as being locked to region 1: in actual fact it's region-free.
The film is presented fully uncut and in its original 1.78:1 ratio. Images are enhanced for 16x9 televisions and are generally very good. There's a grainy grittiness to proceedings which is clearly intentional - though I'm unsure what format the film was shot on (looks to be digital which has then been doctored to achieve a filmic finish?). Regardless, blacks maintain a satisfying steadiness throughout, while colours are strong and detail is at all times perfectly adequate.
English 2.0 audio is clean and even throughout, though it's worth noting that the mumbling cast sometimes make it difficult to decipher what's being said. The score, however, sounds great from beginning to end.
The disc opens to an animated main menu page. There is no scene selection menu
Extras are limited to an animated, dialogue-free 91-second teaser trailer and a slightly more revealing official trailer which runs for just over 2 minutes in length. Per the DVD's back cover, the disc's "visual motion menu" can also be considered as a bonus feature...
REMINISCENCE is an interesting, original film. It's also a baffling one. Its low budget sometimes works against it, but it's hard to knock Karaazmak's ambition. Some more insight into the film's making by way of extra features would've been welcome. Despite this, SGL Entertainment's disc is a good one.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by SGL Entertainment|
|see main review|