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Astral (2018)

Astral Movie Horror Movie Review

A detached university student faces the consequences of astral projection when he uses it to reconnect with his dead mother.


Astral is one of those films that tries so hard to capture amazing, and yet fails to reach it, but only just. Written and directed by Chris Mul (feature debut), there are concepts buried below the surface of the film that we never quite see, sadly leaving the experience a little dull.

While there is nothing wrong with the film, per se, astral projection is used as the gateway for 'something' to enter our world - and used by the protagonist to contact his late mother. It all comes across a little hokey, and something that would have been better placed in The Conjuring universe, had it not already been a fundamental part of Insidious. Of which, sadly, it isn't as good as. The story would have been served better without the dead mother plot line and could have garnered more originality by hitting some of the more broad strokes of Flatliners within the narrative, and more actual astral projection, less Ouija board malarkey.

This all sounds like I'm bashing the film needlessly, but I'm aggrieved because there was a good film there. I just never quite got to see it.

Buried in the center of the story is a group of university friends who are teased by a professor at the beginning of the film with the notion of astral projection. It leads straight to the Flatliners mentality of let's get together somewhere and try it, but instead we have Frank Dillane (Fear the Walking Dead) pushed to the forefront of the plot and given the role of protagonist - with the rest of the friends blending into the background and becoming little more than expositional characters.

Once we have established that the projection has brought something into this world, we're given nothing over and above some slightly below par jump scares, with some only average FX.

The direction is solid, Dillane is a good actor, but sleepwalks through the narrative a little. I never really felt like anyone was really trying to achieve much except "average indie film" or trying to achieve a box cover quote of "Flatliners meets Insidious". Dillane also looks way too much like Johnny Depp with that haircut too, and it is extremely distracting.

Overall it's watchable, but without much in the way of horror outside of low rent jumps. The acting is pretty good across the board, but much of the talented young cast is wasted. Very hollow.

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