Film Review – Human Traces

Is there a better cinematic experience than sitting at a movie theatre and looking at the big screen and hearing such familiar accents?

I seem to have a penchant for movies created in Kiwiland so when I attended a screening of Human Traces, I was intrigued. I didn’t know what to expect going in – sure I’ve seen the trailer and even read the press release – but none of that could have prepared me for the complexity of this film. I took a friend with me to see the film and we were both at the edge of our seats, even looking at each other in shock several times throughout the 87 gripping minutes that it was on screen.

Human Traces centres around Sarah (Sophie Henderson) and her husband Glenn (Mark Mitchinson), scientists in the Southern Ocean, who are on a mission to return the ecosystem of a remote island to its natural state.

Things begin to change shortly after the arrival of Pete (Vinnie Bennett), a mysterious new caretaker that’s come to live with the couple, which of course completely changes the dynamics around the island.

When they become trapped on the island and lose all contact with the outside world, the stakes become higher as winter starts creeping in.

Writer/director Nic Gorman gave us a psychological drama told from three different perspectives, each part just as engaging as the other. I particularly was interested in Riki’s story, and I found myself empathising with his character completely.

The film’s overarching theme of ‘Human Traces’ was apparent in each part of the storytelling. There was even a particular scene during the movie as told from Sarah’s perspective that made me gasp out loud as I discovered why it was aptly called Human Traces. It’s that kind of attention to detail that makes this film work. I liked that each of their stories intertwined and towards the end of the film, I found myself actually holding on to the edge of my seat. Human Traces truly is a compelling film set against the breathtaking New Zealand coastline. It’s an intelligent thriller like no other, exploring human nature in the face of isolation and environmental collapse. A timely conversational topic we all need to have now.

Human Traces reminded me why New Zealand films are having their moment lately.  With films like this, It’s about time that they do.

Human Traces is in NZ Cinemas on November 16. Watch the trailer here (