Written by: Adam Vaughn | April 15th, 2021
Sensation (Martin Grof, 2021) 3 out of 4 stars.
Martin Grof (Excursion) returns to the director’s chair with his second feature film, one that clearly comes across as clever and captivating, even if it takes until its finale to do so. Nevertheless, Sensation is thought-provoking, visually compelling in every way, and leads the viewer to a truly mesmerizing climax. It tells the story of Andrew Cooper (Eugene Simon, Kill Ben Lyk), a postman who finds himself forcibly whisked into being studied at a top-secret superhuman DNA program. Andrew slowly learns that he has been chosen based on his unique telepathic abilities. But can he pass all the tests the program submits him to, and uncover what intentions the program’s head doctors have towards him?
Sensation admittedly takes a long time building up to its climactic moment, opening with a dull, common introduction to character backgrounds, premise and establishing conflict. What kept my attention for most of the first half of the film is its exceptional detail to mise-en-scène, cinematography, lighting techniques and fun special effects. Sensation definitely excels through its visual detail, in a way that compensate for its initially uninteresting writing.
By the time the major reveal of the film comes into play, director Grof rapidly takes the film in a much more compelling direction, utilizing a unique editing technique to wrap up much of the mystery in a thought-provoking manner. We as the viewer find ourselves suddenly invested in a turning point of events for Andrew, as his discovery is something of a surprise that makes the rest of the film ten times more interesting to follow, and as an added bonus has a certain flashy editing style that engages the viewer.
Sadly, Sensation does end in tragedy, tragedy that I don’t fully believe the film justifies. Grof gives the viewer a sense of compassion for Andrew, and the film’s conclusion doesn’t feel well-earned given the viewer’s connection to Andrew as a triumphant protagonist. Still, Sensation brings a mysterious, hallucinatory feeling that manages to mask an otherwise plain story with its art direction, down to the last frame of the film. While it may not be a film I’m in a rush to see a second time over, it certainly deserves recognition.