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Oof. What a movie.
The Rift: Dark Side of the Moon is one of the most confusing, nonsensical films I’ve seen in years. It’s bad, but maybe because it’s so earnest in its execution I feel guilty for giving it my very first “F.” After all, every now and then you’ll come across a movie so utterly terrible that it swings around to being good.
Set in a strange version of Serbia, The Rift follows burnt-out reporter Liz Waid, who also happens to be a secret government agent. Oh, and Liz is a “hacker” and an Eastern European spy, too. No, really. All those things.
Liz is grieving the loss of her recently-dead son. When she’s reactivated by her handlers, she’s not at her best. When she joins up with an equally burnt-out Agent Smith and a dying professor, you get the sense that they’re not the A-team. Their goal: to retrieve a military satellite that crash-landed outside of Belgrade. As Liz and the others try to locate this satellite, they find an abandoned property with some very angry peasants. They also find a rift in time and a missing astronaut. The knowledge of this rift begins to drive them insane.
I watched this film because hey, “it’s on Netflix,” and I figured why not. I regret it now, but I’m also strangely fascinated with how far it went off the rails. Was The Rift this bad on purpose? Is this some sort of practical joke? I really need to know.
On some level—despite how bad this film was—I admire how earnest the execution was. The lead actress, Katarina Cas, did an admirable job despite the movie’s insurmountable challenges. The grief of her character over her dead son was authentic and true. There was also chemistry in the scenes between the actors, which is more than I can say for another sci-fi film, Beyond White Space. You can read our review of Beyond White Space here.
The idea that there was a time rift that exited onto the dark side of the moon was a cool one, but like White Space this cool concept was not enough to save this film from itself. I’m learning that in my quest to dredge Netflix for every sci-fi show available that maybe I’m starting to dig too deep. I’m watching too many B-movies. Or C-movies. Perhaps even D? I don’t know, I really struggled to get through this.
It’s hard to know where to start this critique because so many things went wrong.
The camera work was incredibly shaky, which made watching this film a physically nauseating experience. There were too many dutch angles. I question the use of pop music being played at the most inappropriate times, and it was usually played so loudly that I couldn’t hear what the actors were saying. I had to turn on the subtitles about thirty minutes in.
Liz and the other agents—despite having been out of work for years—are called in to retrieve this satellite because they’re apparently the best for the job. They’re also the closest to the crash-site itself. This would make sense if they were in the middle of nowhere, but they were literally parked right outside a major city. Going to this crash site was a day trip, at most.
This question of “convenience” ties into the film’s overall problems with narrative. Whenever the characters would run across a plot hole as to why these super secret agents couldn’t complete a task, the script would create a nonsensical explanation as to why the smartest course of action was impossible. Where this show’s poor writing really showed through, however, was in its lack of research—from the outdated tech these characters used to how these agents operated.
A personal pet peeve of mine happened in a scene towards the beginning, where Liz came out of the shower soaking wet, wearing a face full of heavy makeup. I mean, c’mon guys. Anyone who has ever worn any makeup is going to know that mascara is not going to look that good getting out of a shower. This feels like a grade-school project with how much thought was put into it.
Oh, and those zombies? Excessive.
When people say “dark side of the moon,” they’re actually referring to the far side of the moon, which faces away from Earth but receives an equal amount of light.
This “dark side” has a ton of craters, including the massive South Pole-Aitken Basin. The Aitken Basin is one of the largest known impact craters in the entire Solar System. Seriously, Google some pictures of it.