This Surreal Sci-Fi Movie is the Next Short Being Turned Into a Feature

By  · Published on March 28th, 2015


Either this is a really good week for short film directors looking to adapt their work as a feature or this is simply going to be a common thing. Sundays is the third short this week to be announced for an expanded effort, following The Leviathan and Realm. Actually, though, all three are better described as proof-of-concept teasers than actual short films. They don’t really tell stories so much as set up worlds and/or characters. Sundays is more of the former, a look at a surreal science fiction ideas without a strong narrative. It’s mood more than movie. And it’s clearly influenced by Terrence Malick and Christopher Nolan.

The 14-minute short hit Vimeo a week ago, went viral and according to Deadline the studios hungrily went after Dutch filmmaker Mischa Rozema for the rights to the feature that he saw Sundays as a first step towards. Warner Bros. won the bidding. The project began with a Kickstarter campaign nearly three years ago, from which more than $50k was raised for what looks like yet another indie movie created primarily with a computer. That’s fitting for Sundays, which is inspired by the concept of the singularity. I don’t know if I’d have known that just by watching the film. There’s a lot you get better when reading the extensive synopsis, in fact, and that’s not really a good thing.

Rozema is hardly an amateur. He’s been doing commercials and other shorts for decades. But while he shows a lot of visionary promise, for the feature-length version of Sundays I really hope he can collaborate with some better writers and work on his human elements. Warner Bros. will likely want something clearer than what’s on screen in the short anyway.

Watch the short version of Sundays below. And then read the original long synopsis that sort of explains it.

A dreamy sequence. Open on the sun. A massive sun flare shoots out. Mexico City. A little kid looks up and sees multiple planes drop out of the sky. Our lead looks out his high rise apartment window; all the city lights go out. In the dark background a few comets rain down. Suddenly all communication stops.

A new day.

Our protagonist works at a software and robotics company. A talented software developer. Has a nice family. Lives in Mexico City but is American.

There’s a certain strangeness to the world he occupies but we can’t quite put our finger on it. For now we act like it’s Mexico City in the near future; a bilingual huge post modern city with big social extremes. The world is being surveilled and maybe even guided but we don’t know by who or what. The people don’t even seem to notice or mind this clear difference to our reality. The sun’s light is different and very present.

Family life and career seem to be going the right direction until a piece of space debris crashes through the office and takes away his cubicle along with 2 of his colleagues. When he comes home he seems a different person. He starts to see the world around him differently, questioning. When he’s in the bathroom, ready to go to bed, he pulls out a huge piece of space debris from the back of his neck. Wondering but telling no one, not even his wife.

We also get to know a poor Mexican female factory worker doing her shifts in the same factory in sterile surroundings. She has a radiation accident without anyone witnessing. She also starts to behave differently.

Together they start a search for truths.

The more they search, the more questions they find; this world is slowly revealing itself as a very strange place. They even start to doubt their own lives. What about the holes in their memories? Major events are just not there.

There are forces attempting to silence him as he gets closer to the truth. Our lead grows more paranoid as he is followed by complete strangers. Who are they?

One day the Mexican woman mysteriously disappears. Later on our lead thinks he sees her, following her past the city’s borders where he makes a strange discovery: that outside of town, civilization has eroded. There’s nothing except nondescript, unfinished structures and landscapes. Some are merely facades, others simply concrete boxes. Whole mountain ranges look low poly and very abstract, only looking good from a certain distance. It’s as though we’re looking at an unfinished render of our planet. Our lead is rapidly becoming aware that the world as he knows it, the world he thinks he knows, is a lie. Everything we’ve seen before us throughout the story is simply an emulation of humanity. A copy of the world right before the solar flare.

But like any copy; it has flaws.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.