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Movie Review: Tricky Ambiguity Keeps You Guessing In “Majic”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 | Review

BY: DAKOTA DAHL

Starring: Paula Brancati, Richard Fitzpatrick, Debra McGrath and Anand Rajaram
Directed by: Erin Berry
Written by: Erin Berry and David Pluscauskas
Banned For Life Productions

Everybody loves a good, mind melting conspiracy that laughs in the face of logic and reason.  If you’ve ever given a moments thought to the idea that the Roswell alien crash was real or that the world is run by reptilian shape shifters, then you’ll probably love MAJIC, which grabs onto the most easily debunkable UFO conspiracy (Majestic 12) and takes off running in a thousand different directions.  This movie definitely wants you to walk away doubting the nature of time, reality and truth.

MAJIC follows an anti-conspiracy blogger named Bernwood, played convincingly by Canadian Paula Brancati (DEGRASSI: THE NEXT GENERATION, BEING ERICA) whom many of you will recognize from the latest two seasons of SLASHER.  The film quickly establishes her as a hardline skeptic of anything and everything, which is probably foreshadowing to her undoing, because of course it is.  We also establish that she is having mounting money issues, because her agent (Michael Seater, LIFE WITH DEREK, REGENESIS) is a massive sleazy douchebag who wants her to review an illegal hallucinogen on her blog, which she flatly refuses to do.

“This is the kind of film that lays the groundwork for you to pick which reality best suits you, and it’s always nice to have multiple choices.”

She is soon contacted by a man named Anderson, portrayed by Richard Fitzpatrick (GOOD WILL HUNTING, BOONDOCK SAINTS) who claims to have intimate knowledge about a shadowy government organization, Majestic 12, which he and those close to the conspiracy call Majic.  Of course, all he has is his word, a photograph of himself and someone else he worked with, and a space pen that he insists Bernwood never lose.  As is usually the case in these kinds of movies, he is needlessly vague, when he could have revealed most of the mystery right away.  He then promptly disappears when Bernwood is looking at her phone.  When she looks up, she sees the man from the photograph hiding behind a tree, holding a phone, implying he was the one that called her.

So, despite the evidence being flimsy and lacking, Bernwood feels convinced something is in this story due to the believability of Anderson.  She takes her thoughts to two different close friends of hers.  The first is a highly intelligent, highly frenetic conspiracy nut named Fishburne (Anand Rajaram, MISS SLOANE, MAJORITY RULES) who is happy to discuss the details behind Majestic 12, giving a good deal of exposition.  The second friend is a cynical elderly woman named Truckspoor (Debra McGrath, EXPECTING, GETTING ALONG FAMOUSLY) who chastises Bernwood for giving this ridiculous conspiracy even the time of day.

As a quick aside, I’m going to encourage you all to watch this film to see if you agree with me.  I got the very distinct impression from this movie that Bernwood’s two friends, Fishburne and Truckspoor, are completely imaginary.  I can’t say for certain that this was the creative direction of the film, but these two characters serve such specific, self contained purposes, plus they seem to be completely unaffected by the events happening in the movie, that I got the feeling that they were written so as to be fictional.

Anyway, after consulting her friends and doing some research of her own, she receives an incredibly cloak and dagger invitation to Anderson’s cabin in the woods.  It’s a manually typed out note giving only coordinates and instructs her to burn the notes after she reads it.  She deciphers the coordinates, goes to the cabin, where Anderson seems confused, as if he never sent the note.  He still plays along, revealing a few more details, like how the US and Russia are caught up in a proxy war between classic grey aliens and those insufferable reptilians.  It’s a lot to dump on her all at once.

I genuinely can’t reveal more of the movie without spoiling some of the immensely enjoyable twists and turns that made this movie so compelling.  So much weird stuff starts happening to Bernwood that by the time the film ends, you genuinely don’t know which source to trust.  There’s time travel, alien abduction, memory loss, and that early mentioned illicit hallucinogen becomes a factor out of left field.  This is the kind of film that lays the groundwork for you to pick which reality best suits you, and it’s always nice to have multiple choices.

Aside from some questionable decision making on the part of Bernwood, the story is written as plausibly as something so outlandish ever could be.  The pace is fun, introducing new dizzying elements at appropriate intervals, which keep the plot running smoothly.  There aren’t a lot of opportunities for you to be bored or distracted for fearing of missing a vital clue as to what the hell is going on.

The acting from almost every player in this story is exactly what it needs to be.  The unbridled enthusiasm of Anand Rajaram as he monologues about why aliens are real, are the cool cynicism of Debra McGrath as she patronizingly explains why aliens are so obviously a hoax.  Fitzpatrick gives the character of Anderson a believable charm, part trustworthy old man, part frustrating vague quest giver.  And of course, Paula Brancati forces the audience to have empathy towards her as she goes from even tempered and always in control to being swept up in impossible events too big to comprehend.

MAJIC is surprisingly fun, not exactly full of frights, but more full of dread as you realize how easily your entire reality could be manipulated by those in power.  Obviously, that’s a very heavy theme, which director and writer Erin Berry delivers in a way that is less ham fisted than most films of the same nature.  Sure, there’s lots of exposition, but at no point does it feel like hand holding, which is a nice departure from the norm of conspiracy movies.

If you want to fall down the rabbit hole, MAJIC will premiere at the BLOOD IN THE SNOW film festival on Sunday, November 24th.

Dakota Dahl
Dakota Dahl has no idea what he is doing, but people seem fine with paying him to do it.