Also known as The Hybrid director Billy O’Brien carefully crafts an interesting gritty modern war movie that transforms half way through into a full on Sci-Horror as a rag tag team of mercenaries are taken into the unknown to find a hidden laboratory performing dangerous experiments.
Lead by the grizzled and war weary Powell (John Lynch from Black Death) who begins the story tortured in a hellish prison before being released to do one more job, the soldiers must infiltrate a former Soviet base now populated by blood thirsty militia waging a nasty civil war across the battle scarred country.
Unaware of what they are looking for only the secretive scientist Healy (Martyrs Morjana Alaoui) holds the truth to their seemingly suicidal mission and once inside the bunker they head deep below where they are attacked by hideous insect masked assailants wielding syringes full of a vicious virus to keep them away.
Fighting for their lives and amongst themselves the team finally reach their goal however all of this is nothing compared to the true nature of the beings that have been concealed in the laboratory and once revealed seize their chance to escape.
Scintilla is as much a hybrid of genres as the hybrid monsters that lurk within the lab walls and O’Brien blends all out action with the documentary style realism of the civil war set up, the taught tension of a horror film and the shocking Sci-Fi storyline, all achieved with minimal yet excellent sets and special effects.
This means we get a cocktail of shoot outs, claustrophobic chases, creepy underground exploration, freaky monsters, Sci-Fi spectacle and some great gore when it all ultimately kicks off in the climax which is much more than many may have expected from a seemingly low budget British movie.
In fact Scintilla looks excellent and is shot superbly well with the slick cinematography aided by a great soundtrack. Although the story is somewhat derivative the combination of war torn chaos and genetic engineering keeps the audience interest up eking out information along the way to keep up engagement.
Sadly the script and acting let it the film down somewhat with the dialogue never really remaining convincing and causing scenes to feel either very stagy and artificial or amateurish and implausible.
The character also all appear more like clichés than well rounded individuals which is a shame considering the cast contains some fine actors including Misfit’s Antonia Thomas, Grabbers Ned Dennehy and Craig Conway from Doomsday and The Descent.
Overall with its multiple genre jumping Scintilla is a good film especially for horror fans wanting something different, it is just a pity that the script and cast stop it from being a great film.