An original, bold and darkly comic UK produced Sci-Fi feature film that is an innovative and unique blend of fantasy and reality (Pi meets Man Bites Dog via The Fly) breathing new life into the found footage genre and creating a savage satire of life in BREXIT era UK.
Roger a drug-addled nineties techno producer, and his best friend, alcoholic wannabe rapper John, attempt to bring about humanity’s next stage of evolution. Their insane plan is to build a machine that bombards people with sound waves making the soul leave the human body and become pure consciousness. It’s a tale of idiocy, delusion and obsession. With no real scientific basis for their machine and Roger’s growing misanthropic messiah complex, the one way trip to a “new age cosmological rave in the sky” soon becomes a dark, bloody journey driven by desperation for success and recognition.
Review by Anton Bitel for Sight & Sound
My other favourite film of the festival is an ultra-low-budget, DIY found-footage film about the making of an even lower-budget DIY film, in which a hired camera operator (Alistair Cummings, also co-writer and the actual DP) documents the activities of middle-aged, unemployed, live-at-home loser Roger Armstrong (played by Armstrong) and his best friend John Hickman (played by Hickman). At first Roger claims to be producing a “20 years in the making” techno album that he hopes is “gonna uplift the scene” and “change everything” – but then he rediscovers a specific synth tone, conjured from his acid house past, which he believes can be harnessed to “allow the human consciousness to leave the body and to, like, transcend to the next level”.
From here on in, the hilarious banality of the film takes a more sinister turn, as Roger finds various human guinea pigs on whom to test the tone, with messily fatal results – and so this musical mockumentary becomes something more akin to the serial-killing reportage of Man Bites Dog. Vainglorious, bitter, racist and not a little unhinged, Roger ‘sublimates’ his victims with psychotic glee – but at the same time he genuinely longs to transport them, and himself, above and beyond the succession of “shit jobs”, Gumtree barter and general drudgery that have defined his Newcastle subsistence ever since the Second Summer of Love – and with it his glory days – came to an end back in the early 90s. Here the analogue sounds of Roger’s drug-addled youth are the only escape that he can find from the absurdly miserable reality of contemporary British life – even if he retreats into a kind of nostalgia that is deluded, destructive, even deadly.
Obviously made for peanuts, Sublimate never stops laughing at its protagonist and itself, while painting a grim picture of the sort of parochial neglect and despair that has made Brexit possible. Roger’s backward-looking flights of fancy represent escapism at its most bleakly funny.