Its not often movies will make my head spin, but Simon Horrocks’ Third Contact is one such case. This psychologically-driven film follows David (Tim Scott-Walker), a psychotherapist who’s seemingly feeling more like his patients lately with bouts of depression and a sense hopelessness. He contemplates ending things himself until he has an encounter with Erika (Jannica Olin), the sister of a former patient who has recently died. Suddenly the mysteriousness surrounding the patient’s death gives David reason to stick around, at least for the time being.
As David digs deeper into the apparent suicide of his patient, strange and mysterious things start to happen. It’s not long before I began to realize the film was going to be a psychological puzzle of sorts. When another patient of David’s dies, again by apparent suicide which eerily resemble the prior case, things really get heavy. Is there some sort of cult behind this? Some kind of conspiracy? David desperately wants to find out, likely for the sake of rescuing his own dignity and reputation if nothing else.
During his investigation, David tracks down a contact of one of his deceased patients. This is where the bizarre factor really gets turned up a notch in the movie. After the encounter, David wakes up in a small room. Someone is outside the door, but this detail seems insignificant. He looks out the window, seeing what appears to be himself walking down the street with a woman. Is he somehow in another dimension? Is it time travel? As each strange event takes place, the more the questions build up.
I admit that I may have lost track of many of the occurrences that took place and likely misplaced their sequence in retrospect, but that fact goes to illustrate the complexity that begins to unfold in the story. I watched the second half of the film twice, and even in the second viewing I can’t say with confidence I have a great understanding of the film. This is certainly not a complaint. I love a film that challenges the viewer, asks many questions, and leaves a lot to be interpreted and this film does just that.
The film reminded me a little bit of Aronofski’s Pi. Aside from the black and white filming style, both films follow troubled lead characters who get entwined in cryptic and mind-bending situations. I really appreciate original films like this (despite causing a bit of mental frustration at times!). The characters were elusive and the narration was poetic and just as mysterious at times. The conversations were surprisingly interesting as well, especially those between David and patient Karl (Oliver Browne). I found myself wanting to know what “destinations” were just like David. By the end of the film, I still had many questions but I wanted more.
This is one of those films I’ll need, and want, to watch on more occasions just to see what new details I may have missed before. Writer/director Simon Horrocks did a great job combining both the style and substance with this one. The look and pace of the film fit the source material, so much that I felt closer to the main character. While the film certainly is more psychologically-driven, and this one especially requires a lot of attention, it was quite stimulating. The ending had me saying “what the…” and had me coming up with my theories. Third Contact may leave you with more questions than answers, but that shouldn’t be a bad thing especially in today’s cinematic climate.