The Dark Dystopia of “Eden Log”

In this interesting little French science-fiction film from 2007, director Franck Vestiel has crafted an eerie, dystopic underworld which leaves viewers as unsettled and engaged as the film’s protaganist. With its heavy silver-tint, dark, unnerving sets and characters, and the slow unfolding of the what-went-horribly-wrong scenario, Eden Log opens in complete darkness. Blinding, sporadic flashes of light reveal a man emerging from a thick mud, almost as if he were being born from the earth itself. Disoriented, he tries to acclamate himself to his surroundings. He fumbles through the darkness, and eventually comes upon a portable light source, which helps him to navigate the dark corners.

His first human encounter is with a man who is mounted to a wall, with strange, tree-like roots growing out of his body. This image reminded me of when the team of Space Marines encounter the first cocooned host on LB-426 in Aliens. He warns our hero, whom we discover has amnesia, of the impending doom ahead, as his body is wrought with pain as the tree roots further engulf him [we learn late in the film that our hero’s name is Tolbiac (Clovis Cornillac), and he has a unique connection to Eden Log]. Out of the shadows comes a roar, which apparently affects Tolbiac profoundly, as he races off, gripping his head in agony. Tolbiac continues his journey through the dark labyrinth, and begins to find clues that lead him to encounter the hideously deformed subhumans, the subterranean tactical police unit, and a stranger in white that helps him in his escape to the surface, all while trying to find out his identity, and what happened to him.

The film is beautifully shot by Thierry Pouget, who manages to keep the film feeling dark and dirty, whilst contrasting the cold and clinically strile areas of Eden Log. Great handheld and dynamic wide-angle camerawork reminiscient of Terry Gilliam’s films also lends a feel of claustaphobia to the frames. Vestiel plays his characters with little dialogue, just enough to move the plot along; the script places emphasis on the world, and the visuals (particularly the production design) are as fantastic as those of Vestiel’s contemporary Chris Cunningham.

Another great aspect of this film is the score by Seppuku Paradigm (aka Alex & Willie Cortes). The haunting, Vangelis-esque ambience it creates perfectly compliments the imagery, and is at the same time neither overly electronic nor symphonic.

The film has a decent plot twist at the climax of the third act, and overall I dug the whole picture. The pacing was good, the story simple and unique, and the visuals all that one would expect from French sci-fi; the design is very Moebius at times, and even feels like it could have graced the pages of Metal Hurlant. I highly recommend this to anyone who is tired of the big, lazy Hollywood effects pictures that seem more concerned with CG explosions and character animation than crafting a good story and atmosphere.


One Response to “The Dark Dystopia of “Eden Log””

  1. T. Banger Says:

    I hated this movie. Bad over-dub drove me nuts, and the sporadic, Incredible Hulk-like fits of rage and rape were in bad taste and were inexplicable and did little to move the plot along. 😦 Had potential though!

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