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The Alternate (2022) Movie Review: Wickedly Smart Multiverse Sci-Fi Thriller

The Alternate movieThe Alternate movie: When parallel universes collide. The Alternate has elements in common with titles as disparate as Mike Cahill’s sci-fier/psychological drama Another Earth and Frank Capra’s sentimental socially conscious fantasy It’s a Wonderful Life.
  • The Alternate (2022) movie review: Partly set in a seemingly rosier parallel universe, screenwriter-director Alrik Bursell’s sci-fi thriller is both clever and gripping.

The Alternate (2022) movie review: Alrik Bursell’s taut sci-fi thriller mingles a topical plot with an age-old admonishment

Be careful what you wish for is the underlying message of writer-director Alrik Bursell’s multidimensional/parallel-universe-set sci-fi thriller The Alternate. This is a wickedly smart movie, and in the current milieu of multi/metaverse fever it feels – ever so slightly – possible.

The story revolves around Jake (Ed Gonzalez Moreno), a filmmaker not living the life he thought he would by now. Much of his time is spent shooting corporate videos and complaining to his girlfriend, Kris (Natalia Dominguez), about his unfulfilled dream of turning his film school short into a feature. She is sick of hearing it, as is everyone else he whines to.

While working on another corporate talking head interview, Jake has a What is that? moment after noticing something unusual at the center of the video playback. He zooms in on the little pixelated dot and, using a bit of clever video nerdery, is able to render a magnified image of what appears to be a swirling vortex into … what?

Through the looking glass

At this point in the movie, we know just enough about Jake to realize he’s the kind of guy who would likely mention the vortex in his computer to his girlfriend. And he does, eventually.

But first we have one of those moments when Jake can’t get Kris to listen to him, being thus forced to put off the revelation of the vortex until she’s in a better mood. That’s the one cliché in the film, as it’s used to stave off that story beat until Jake can explore the alternate universe on his own.

Through Bursell’s looking glass, what Jake finds is … Jake. Or rather, an alternate Jake who happens to be living the life that Jake wants. This other self is a successful filmmaker, residing in a nicer version of the original Jake’s house, with the “same” companion – only Kris likes him a bit more and dresses sexier. In addition, they have a great kid.

It’s not long before Jake starts to partake of the alternate Jake’s life in that other universe. And it isn’t long before he starts to want it all.

Be careful what you wish for

At about 85 minutes to the credit run, The Alternate is a taut sci-fi thriller that, cleverly, wastes little time either pondering or explaining the scientific “hows” of its story. It’s all made up, it doesn’t matter, and you won’t care.

Besides, the notion at the center of it all is solid enough to drive the film’s message home. Once again: Be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.

Distributed by Uncork’d Entertainment, The Alternate opens digitally and on DVD on Sept. 13.

The Alternate (2022) cast & crew

Direction & Screenplay: Alrik Bursell.

Cast: Ed Gonzalez Moreno, Natalia Dominguez, Syra McCarthy, Patrice Binaisa, Phillip Caires, Lisa Finnie, Alexander Marais, Olivia Pintz.

Cinematography: Jason Joseffer.

Music: Kevin Kerrigan.

Production Design: Rob Riutta.

Producers: Jeffrey Allard, Marcella Cortland, and Seana Meek.

Production Companies: Bursell Productions.

Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment.

Running Time: 87 min.

Country: United States.


The Alternate (2022) Movie Review” endnotes

An aside: Producer Jeffrey Allard was an executive producer on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning.

The Alternate movie credits via the IMDb.

The Alternate movie image: Bursell Productions.

The Alternate (2022) Movie Review: Wickedly Smart Multiverse Sci-Fi Thriller” last updated in September 2022.

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