Discovery

ARQ

Tony Elliott

Arq 01

Orphan Black screenwriter Tony Elliott makes his feature directorial debut with this brain-twisting sci-fi thriller, about a husband and wife (The Flash’s Robbie Amell and Jessica Jones’ Rachael Taylor) living in a dystopic future who become trapped in a mysterious time loop — one that may have something to do with an ongoing battle between an omnipotent corporation and a ragtag band of rebels.

A man sits bolt upright in bed, a woman lying next to him, when three masked men burst in and attack them. He manages to break free — only to black out, wake up, and experience the same events all over again. So begins ARQ, the ambitious debut feature from screenwriter Tony Elliott, which fuses the dystopic-future sci-fi genre with a mind-twisting mystery.

The future world of ARQ is dominated by Torus, an omnipotent corporation that has plundered the world's energy resources, and made food and water scarce and the air unbreathable for all but brief stretches of time. The only opposition is a ragtag band of rebels known as the Bloc, who are hopelessly outmanned, outgunned, and viewed with suspicion by a general populace that has been reduced to fighting for its bare subsistence. The couple at the centre of the film are Renton (Robbie Amell, of TV's The Flash), who once worked for Torus, and Hannah (Rachael Taylor of Netflix's Jessica Jones), whom Renton lost touch with a few years ago and who may have been imprisoned and tortured by the company. Both of them have secrets they aren't sharing with one another, but the biggest mysteries are why the terrifying events of the film's opening keep repeating themselves — and the strange, spinning machine in Renton's basement.

Sharply written, skilfully directed, and artfully designed, ARQ becomes more intense, puzzling, and fascinating by the minute, while Amell and Taylor perfectly capture the perplexity, uncertainty, and horror that Renton and Hannah experience as they learn more about the terrifying world they inhabit.

STEVE GRAVESTOCK

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