SXSW Film Festival Review: AT FIRST LIGHT (2018)
Still from FIRST LIGHT | Credit: David Jones

First, let me say just how excited I am to review films for the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. It’s one of the biggest festivals out there and everyone always raves about it. They are always premiering exciting, inventive and quality films that make us fall in love with cinema all over again. This can also be said about FIRST LIGHT, which premiered at SXSW on March 10.

FIRST LIGHT was directed and written by Jason Stone starring Stefanie Scott, Théodore Pellerin, Saïd Taghmaoui, Kate Burton, and Kristin Booth. The story centers around a high school senior, Alex Lainey (Scott), who while swimming in water has a near death experience and soon develops mysterious, dangerous, supernatural abilities that she can’t explain. Lost and confused, her childhood friend, Sean Terrel (Pellerin) helps her through this bizarre experience while running from the authorities who are after her and her new-found transformation.

You know, I didn’t read much about this film before watching it and it definitely caught me by surprise. It starts out like a teenage drama – everyone is going through a hard time (typical teenage angst), bonfire parties, jealousy, and all that good stuff. However, it quickly takes a turn for the better with awesome sci-fi goodness.

I’ve seen similar scenarios like this before in other films, but it was the new-found connection between Alex and Sean that made it stand out. They had their rough patches in the past, but when she needed him the most he was there, and she was there for him. They had no clue what was going on, but they were determined to figure it out together despite all odds against them.

Speaking of those characters, both Stefanie Scott and Théodore Pellerin gave outstanding performances in FIRST LIGHT. It was raw, emotional and brave. Pellerin stood out the most – although this experience is happening to Scott’s character, Pellerin is feeling the aftermath of it all. Some good came out of it, but it took a toll on him a swell and despite all that he was mentally and physically going through, he held on like a champ. You could feel his pain, love, and devotion radiating off the screen.

Once you begin to figure out what’s going on and why everything happened, I found that it became a bit of the downfall of the film. It wasn’t bad, but the exciting part was the journey and the mystery of it all. The end wasn’t what I expected at all, but it was bittersweet.

If you love films with passion, drive, and heart, this sci-fi thriller is definitely for you! FIRST LIGHT is an exciting story that takes you on a new adventure with relatable characters and a mystery to solve. The acting is phenomenal and it won’t leave you disappointed.

Tori Danielle
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