A plan to launch four teenagers into space on a mission to save humanity naturally raises questions. Is it a publicity stunt? (Maybe.) Is there a reason only kids can carry out this particular space mission? (Unclear.) Is it a satire of contemporary YA fiction? (Probably.) Ultimately, Assassinaut offers an ambitious spin on low-budget sci-fi horror with memorable scenes and surprisingly gory visual effects.

surprisingly gory visual effects

The small cast includes four teen actors stranded on an alien planet after a botched assassination attempt on the “President of Earth,” played by Irene Santiago (Way of the Gun, Iron Man 3). The kids, for the most part, lack significant acting experience. However, director Drew Bolduc (Science Team, Return to Nuke ‘Em High Volume 1) asks his young cast to carry the bulk of Assassinaut‘s runtime.

Ultimately, the film drags through long stretches of bickering and dissension. Despite the high concept sci-fi premise, the second and third acts play out a bit more like The Blair Witch Project, when the kids get lost in the woods and run short on supplies.

However, Bolduc also lends his talents to the special effects team, resulting in a handful of truly spectacular moments. Fans of the Nuke ‘Em High series probably have an idea of the kind of fun, gory, and gross practical effects that are in store. While the budget likely limited the amount of screen-time available for special effects, Asssassinaut gets its money’s worth from what it is able to include.

fun, gory, and gross

Bolduc also makes effective use of experienced cinematographer Kunitaro Ohi. The camera work, combined with the special effects, convincing models, and detailed set design, elevate Assassinaut above your average genre fare. Ultimately, the hard work and expertise of the crew involved result in a stunning finished product based on some very ambitious efforts. Unfortunately, while these practical elements are amazing and really well done, there just weren’t enough of them to make up for the less than stellar acting and meandering story.

Assassinaut will be released on VOD and Blu Ray on July 30, 2019.