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DARKEN: Before The Dark (DBTD) is the intriguing 33-minute sequel short film to the forthcoming full-length sci-fi thriller DARKEN.

Directed by Audrey Cummings, DBTD is the story of Darken, a peculiar otherworldly dimension ruled by a mysterious entity known as “Mother Darken” (Laura Nordin).

The denizens of Darken are all individuals transported there after suffering severe physical and/or emotional trauma.

Once they arrive, all memories of their trauma - and their lives in the outside world - vanish. Armed with only the memory of their names, citizens of Darken discover they no longer age, feel hunger, temperature extremes, or pain.

In Darken, they are free to explore the endless labyrinthine halls and rooms that make up the realm.

However, when a new arrival named Kim (Annie Briggs) comes to Darken, cracks in this odd paradise begin to show.

Greeting Kim is Olive (Jodelle Ferland, Dark Matter), a young woman whose role is to initiate newcomers to the traditions of Darken.

Olive sees Mother Darken as a benevolent deity whose only desire is to protect her charges within her realm.

Other key citizens of Darken are soon revealed, including:

  • Artemis (Emmanuel Kabongo), a man mistrustful of Mother Darken’s motives

  • Martin (Ari Millen) who has lived in Darken the longest of anyone and now serves as the realm’s historian

  • Wren (Paul Amos), a true believer in Mother Darken’s teachings

  • Lucian (John Tench), the newest and most problematic arrival to the world of Darken

However, the most divisive of Darken’s citizens is Clarity (Christine Horne), a mercurial woman who, unlike Olive, believes Mother Darken is not a benevolent deity, but instead a god who must be feared and obeyed without question.

When a catastrophic event shakes Darken to its core, a civil war erupts between those who subscribe to Olive’s interpretation of Mother Darken’s nature and those who do not.

As a prequel, DBTD succeeds in introducing viewers to the odd and mysterious realm of Darken and its key players; it also introduces many questions that beg to be answered in a future installment.

Questions such as who or what is Mother Darken? What exactly is Darken? Is it an afterlife? A parallel dimension? A bizarre experiment?

Director Audrey Cummings has created a paradise-nightmare world with aesthetics drawn from a mish-mash of genre properties, chief among them the haunted house vibe of the Silent Hill video game franchise.

The project’s inclusive cast is what also places DBTD solidly in the “must-see” column. It is always refreshing to see the richness of humanity reflected onscreen

Pictured left to right: Jodelle Ferland as Olive, Annie Briggs as Kim, Emmanuel Kabongo as Artemis, Paul Amos as Wren

Dark Matter alum Jodelle Ferland heads an impressive coterie of actors from many notable Canadian sci-fi television series. These talented actors sell the promise of DARKEN with their superb portrayals of people caught up in a surreal supernatural mystery.

What this reviewer also admires about DBTD is what it says about the dangers accompanying the arrival of charismatic leaders - especially those with religious or spiritual pedigrees.

Cult of personalities form around such individuals - with blind faith in their personas and manifestos often morphing into zealotry.

The secretive Mother Darken is the fictional avatar for such leaders, and it will be interesting to see how the jihad forming among her people plays out in the feature film.

Watch DARKEN: Before The DARK prequel here…

With its eerie world brought to life by a visionary woman filmmaker and talented, inclusive cast, DARKEN: Before The Dark earns our highest recommendation.

Pre-orders for the forthcoming film continuation are available now.

Please visit DarkenProvides.com to discover how to get your copy of the feature film when it is released - along with many cool extra features.

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.



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In the dystopian sci-fi short film AIR, catastrophic atmospheric changes have devastated the planet.

The remnants of humanity seek refuge in Securos, an underground complex its builders promise will be indefinitely sustainable.

Unfortunately, after 126 years, the populace of Securos find themselves dealing with a critical depletion of their oxygen supply. In a random "lottery," denizens of the bunker will be chosen to sacrifice themselves in order to reduce the population and slow the depletion of air.

An engineer named Alex (Antonia Thomas) decides to defy the lottery edict. The brave young woman uses her engineering aptitude to seek another solution to her society's dire situation.

Viewers are shown how life in the once plush Securos bunker has deteriorated after serving as humanity's underground ark for over a century.

Society now believes life above is only reserved for God and those deceased. The bunker is ruled by a religious zealot (David Schofield), whose fanaticism doesn't spare his own son, Nick (Tom Riley).

Nick's predicament is what catalyzes Alex into action.

Written by Philip James Booth and directed by Emma Maclennan, AIR is a striking sci-f short film that is at once meditative and precise in its thematic trajectory.

While the short film's main thesis advocates ecological conservancy and warns against the dangers of fundamentalism, it also weaves in a tender coming-of-age story.

AIR is a remarkable sci-fi short film with an unforgettable ending that is both haunting and wistfully, aching beautiful.

Watch AIR in its entirety here...

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

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The horror short NEIGHBORS begins innocuously enough; in a posh condominium high-rise, young urbanite Brad (Steven Conroy) meets a mysterious new neighbor in the elevator.

Brad attempts to make friendly conversation, but it quickly becomes obvious his creepy neighbor, Carl (Pascal Yen-Pfister), is not interested.

Driven by curiosity, Brad and his girlfriend Melanie (Caitlin Johnston) soon become enmeshed in a mystery involving Carl which will teach them a costly lesson: some people - and secrets - are better left undisturbed.

Written and directed by Brandon Boudreaux, NEIGHBORS generates blood-chilling horror from the unsettling possibility that unspeakable evil may reside right next door to us.

Watch the unnerving NEIGHBORS here...

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

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 In the short film SWORD OF THE DEAD (SOTD), an exiled ronin ( Masami Kosaka) returns home to discover his birthplace overrun with zombies due to an evil curse.

This latest short by filmmaker Stephen Vitale - whose other short film HOSHINO is an outstanding Star Wars homage - takes worn-out zombie tropes and reinvigorates them by excising the living dead out of Western cultural accouterments and transplanting them into feudal Japan.

The result is a haunting, beautiful short film that is a homage to both the classic George A. Romero zombie film Night Of The Living Dead and the movies of renowned Japanese directors Masaki Kobayashi and Akira Kurosawa.

A tip of the hat to Vitale for including Japanese artisans on the SOTD production team. His directorial vision and their expertise merge together to replicate the look and feel of a film from Japan's cinematic golden age in the 1950s.

 Other inspired artistic choices include the decision to film SOTD in pristine black and white, as well as having all dialogue spoken in Japanese with English subtitles. 

I would be remiss if I didn't call out the riveting performances of  Masami Kosaka as the exiled ronin and Rome Kanda as the old man who warns our hero of the evil that has infested his home.

SOTD is gorgeous, atmospheric and mesmerizing; it is a zombie-action film unlike any you have ever seen.

But don't take my word for it, watch SWORD OF THE DEAD in its entirety here...

Sword of the Dead ソード・オブ・ザ・デッド - YouTube

 

Also, check out this fascinating behind-the-scenes video of the making of SOTD...

Sword of the Dead - Behind the Scenes - YouTube

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

Discover New Worlds Of Sci-Fi Via Our Newsletter!

You will also receive our free eBook 15 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Web Series

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We are proud of the fact The 7th Matrix has been operating AD-FREE since its inception in 2013. Please help us continue. Thank you!

We also accept donations via Bitcoin using this address:

1EdGZQu1hcpzTYiTzoBD66bFC6ubH1pVL1

We also accept donations via Bitcoin using this address:

1EdGZQu1hcpzTYiTzoBD66bFC6ubH1pVL1

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Moments that change our lives forever often arrive without preamble or warning.

In the compelling new sci-fi short film INSTANT by Roddenberry Entertainment, five strangers fellowshipping in a local bar suddenly find themselves taken hostage by a desperate gunman.

However, one of the hostages possesses a startling secret that will forever alter the lives of everyone in the bar.

Written by Todd Beauchamp and directed by Alex Albrecht, the narrative of INSTANT is powered by its intimate setting, affecting script, and a remarkable cast comprised of Tyler Hilton, Manu Intiraymi, Emily Chang, Tony Janning, Tara Penny, and distinguished character/voice actor Phil Morris.

Executive produced by Rod Roddenberry, INSTANT shines because it places character relationships front and center in the story instead of garish CGI and overblown visual effects.

Through the characters' interactions, the short film comments on our current troubling times, while also championing faith in humanity's potential. It's a thematic philosophy Roddenberry shares with his late father, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Watch INSTANT in its entirety here...

Instant - YouTube

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

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In the sci-fi short A Crimson Man,  a young runaway boy named Wei (Maddox Henry) is searching for his father in a land torn apart by a long-running war between humans and sentient robots called "Crimson Men."

While on his quest, Wei encounters a robot he dubs "Red."  Red (voiced by Daniel Clarkson) is scarred by years of battle and is fleeing from the war.

The young boy and hulking robot begrudgingly agree to join forces in order to escape their ravaged land. However, an encounter with the enemy sparks erratic behavior in Red, causing Wei to doubt if he can trust his mechanized companion.

Written and directed by filmmaker Mike Pappa, A Crimson Man is an impressive homage to classic sci-fi coming-of-age cinema which includes iconic films such as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Flight Of The Navigator, and The Iron Giant.

Those films juxtapose the wonder-filled exuberance of youth against the fantastical to explore often very heavy themes including fear of abandonment and alienation.

In A Crimson Man, Pappa effectively uses his speculative narrative to probe the complex dynamics between parent and child, as well as the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The short film successfully transports viewers into its intriguing world by use of its visually arresting aesthetic that is a handsome mix of lush pastoral combined with the retro-stylings of steampunk.

Experience A Crimson Man here...

Sci-Fi Short Film "A Crimson Man" directed by Mike Pappa - YouTube

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

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We are proud of the fact The 7th Matrix has been operating AD-FREE since its inception in 2013. Please help us continue. Thank you!

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What if extraterrestrials were walking among us?

Disguised as human beings, they could be your doctor, teacher, attorney, or the stranger seated next to you on the train to work.

The idea of aliens possibly posing as us as we live our lives unaware has fueled the dreams and nightmares of many conspiracy theorists.

In the science fiction web series pilot Star Thieves, covert alien visitation is a tantalizing reality.

Star Thieves centers a young Catholic priest named Isaiah (Dennis Hill). Isaiah is new to the priesthood but is experiencing a crisis of faith. While seeking counsel from his mentor Father Jacob (Steve Maurice), the pair is tasked with performing an exorcism on a young member of a desperate family.

Dennis Hill as Isaiah/Kai. Image property of Dark Matter 86. All rights reserved.

As Isaiah confronts the "possessed" young woman, a startling secret is uncovered - both he and Father Jacob are revealed to be beings named Kai and Isi,  two members of a clan of mysterious aliens.

The aliens have been living on earth for the past millennium judging humanity from the shadows. Needing the energy of stars to fuel their power and near-immortal lives, should they deem humanity unworthy, the sun - and consequently all life on earth - is doomed.

The result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, Star Thieves is remarkable in many ways. Chief among them is its inclusive representation both in front of and behind the camera.

Conceived by filmmakers of color, the pilot is also awash in color onscreen - both in its production design and casting.  As fantastical as the world of Star Thieves is, it is immensely relatable because of the rich swath of humanity presented.

No whitewashing here folks.

The pilot wastes no time in introducing its core characters, including Isaiah/Kai portrayed by Dennis Hill (who is also a co-creator). Hill was also a significant presence in another exceptional SFF web series, The Record Keeper

He is definitely leading man material. He brings an undeniable magnetism and complexity to the role of Isaiah/Kai.

Star Thieves Cast. Image property of Dark Matter 86. All rights reserved.

Hill heads a dynamic cast of charismatic, and yes attractive, actors who include:

This cast capably imbues their alien characters with an ethereal quality that is mesmerizing to watch.

The overall production design is an achievement as well.

The pilot is painted with brilliant colors and textures. It also has a visual crispness that excites the eye and serves to draw you deeper into the narrative.

Speaking of narrative, Star Thieves accomplishes what successful pilots are designed to do; it introduces the world and characters in a dynamic way, and gives titillating hints as to the larger mythology, leaving you wanting more. 

Click on the image below to watch the Star Thieves online pilot...

With its inclusive representation, terrific production value, wonderful cast, and intriguing story, Star Thieves promises to take viewers on an exceptional sci-fi journey.

I hope it gets the chance.  It deserves it, and so do we.

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

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Augmented and virtual reality are paradigm-changing technologies  promising to make significant impacts on our daily lives.

Augmented reality (AR) is the technology used with laptops and mobile devices to insert virtual elements into real-world environments.

This interactivity has many possible applications, especially for the video and mobile gaming industry. A prime example of the potential of AR technology is the mobile game Pokémon Go! released in 2016.

Millions were obsessed with the mobile app that projected the popular fantasy creatures known as Pokémon into real-world environments. Players are given the ability to capture and train the virtual critters.

The game was a huge success and helped usher AR technology into the mainstream.

In the sci-fi short Strange Beasts written by Magali Barbé, a near future is presented where augmented reality has advanced to the next level.

The titular AR game allows players to design, create, modify, and bring to life their own virtual "pets." 

Using technology that beams virtual elements directly onto the corneas of the eyes, these pets are constant companions who play, get into mischief, and demand attention just as most physical pets do.

However, the short's narrative takes an unexpected turn by introducing a disturbing Black Mirror-like twist. It is a story beat which acts as a sober reminder of the dark side of modern technology.

Strange Beasts is a very attractive short film. Its plot unfolds by having the fictional game's creator Victor Weber (Timothy Renouf), a posh European game developer, describe the app in a faux promotional video that riffs off those iconic Apple ads narrated by   industrial designer Jony Ive.

Like the similarly themed sci-fi short Real Artists, watching Strange Beasts feels extremely prescient. It's like looking out a window and seeing life a few years into the future.

Watch Strange Beasts in its entirety...

Sending special thanks to our Twitter follower Timothy Duquesne for bringing this exceptional short film to our attention!

 

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The Winter's Club is a remarkable sci-fi short film by Chris Stone, an independent filmmaker whose work we have long admired here at The 7th Matrix.

The short begins within the crumbling bowls of an abandoned neo-gothic building. Two British agents, Shaw (Rachel Shenton) and Shepard (Richard Jack), have been tasked with tracking down Winter (Lewis Brindley) - a powerful member of a group of genetically engineered humans who possess paranormal abilities.

While Shaw believes these beings to be extremely dangerous, Shepard holds a far more compassionate view.

When the duo finally catch up to Winter, he isn't at all what they expect. Their encounter with him reveals life-altering secrets that shatters the agents' worldview.

Originally an entrant in the 2013 Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge, The Winter's Club is a prime example of Chris Stone's ability to make low budget filmmaking look and feel truly cinematic.

At a run time of just over four and a half minutes, Stone manages to craft a complete, compelling sci-fi narrative inhabited by characters you quickly become invested in. Major credit must also be given to the superb performances turned in by the cast.

Watch The Winter's Club here...

The Winter's Club is further proof all that is needed to craft an excellent science fiction film is a solid script, capable actors, and a filmmaker with vision and passion.

Discover more of Chris Stone's work by visiting his official web site ChrisStoneShowReels.com.

Make sure to check out our podcast Eye On Sci-Fi. Join host and The 7th Matrix founder Rod T. Faulkner as he spotlights terrific indie SFF short films and web series.

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You will also receive our free eBook 15 Mind-Blowing Sci-Fi Web Series

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We are proud of the fact The 7th Matrix has been operating AD-FREE since its inception in 2013. Please help us continue. Thank you!

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We are pleased to announce the launch of our official podcast Eye On Sci-Fi!

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