In my experience, the best and most engaging sci-fi to emerge over the last few years has sprung from simple, if unusual, premises. Another Earth sets a dark personal drama against the backdrop of a mysterious duplicate planet Earth appearing in the sky. Coherence gathers friends together for a dinner party while a comet passes overhead. Sound Of My Voice sees amateur documentarians inflitrating a cult who believe their leader is a time-traveller. All have conceits that can be summarised in one sentence, then go on to subvert your expectations at every turn, venturing into boldly adventurous territory and eschewing excessive CGI in favour of sharp, cerebral storytelling.
While Curtain doesn’t quite hit the highs of those films, it finds its success in a similar way. A run-down ex-nurse (Danni Smith) moves into a new flat in the hope of recharging and getting back onto her feet. However, her peace is disrupted upon the discovery that her shower curtains keep mysteriously disappearing from her bathroom. Determined to figure out what’s going on, she sets up a camera in the bathroom and finds that the curtains are disappearing, seemingly of their own accord, through a “portal” in the wall. She recruits her friend Tim (Tim Leuke), and together they set about trying to find out where they’re going, and how they can communicate with the other side.
Curtain takes its eccentric premise almost entirely seriously, and is a better film for it: while it sounds like lightweight sci-fi fare on paper, something far more interesting is going on here, and clocking in at under 75 minutes, it wastes no time engaging the audience on both an emotional and cerebral level. Smith excels in the lead role, and bolstered by a strong supporting cast and a lean, punchy script that neatly balances humour and suspense, the film moves through its gears with an impressive deftness, hurtling towards its satisfying and undeniably smart conclusion.
There are times where it feels like Curtain slightly loses its grasp on its tone, with a few moments veering a little too far into the realm of the ridiculous. That being said, this is still bracingly creative stuff, and what it does have in the way of flaws feel forgivable in the face of its breakneck pacing, tight plotting and boundless imagination. An acquired taste for sure, but entirely worth your time.