Where most horrors of this ilk seem to drag their heels with a slow, drawn-out beginning, Meander throws us straight into the action after around the 5-minute mark. Lisa (played by Gaia Weiss) is mourning the loss of her nine-year-old daughter when she’s picked up on the road by night watchman, Adam. After waking up in a system of tunnels, Lisa must risk all to survive.
The Plot Behind Meander
The main issue I had with Meander is the lack of any discernable plot. Admittedly, this may be because WTFilms decided, for some unknown reason, to stop dubbing as the movie finally gives (what looks to be) some dialogue that would explain the whole situation.
When Lisa first wakes up in the elaborate hamster maze Adam (we assume) has thrown her into, the questions start building up. For one, the money involved in such a hi-tech system is way beyond the means of a night watchman. The technology utilized in the system of tunnels would have cost an absolute fortune. While this may be thinking too far into it, it’s something that stays with you for the entirety of the movie. It’s also something that is never explained; along with the biggest question: why?
The movie follows Lisa through an elaborate network of tunnels that each present its own challenges. From opening floors over acid and barbed wire to flamethrowers and even monsters; Meander is choc-full of surprises and indeed, intrigue.
Using the contraption bound to her wrist as both a source of light and a timer to indicate the time she has left in each section; Lisa must face the ultimate battle of wits as she fights to escape with her life. Her only friend, a weird, healing floating skull that looks like it’s come straight from the set of eighties classic Flight of the Navigator.
One wouldn’t be blamed for feeling that Meander has taken their premise straight from the nineties cult-horror, Cube. And the sad fact is that you would probably be right. There’s no denying the correlation between the two, with the core idea being almost identical to the aforementioned movie. I feel the earlier production still shines strong above Meander as there are more characters, more originality in the challenges faced, and at least some form of discernable plot.
The Beauty of Meander
Bizarrely, I feel the lack of any real story of sustenance, adds to Meander. Without any overly complex narrative to follow, you are free to just enjoy the movie. Furthermore, the movie has some profound ability to keep you guessing at what lays awaiting our hapless hero. With each tunnel section holding a new challenge, Meander keeps you guessing and captivates from the beginning to the end. Despite not really knowing what’s going on (I never did well in French class in school), the unique premise won me over.
Due to the one-character format of Meander, there’s only really one cast member that holds any real significance, Lisa. Played by Maia Geiss, Lisa puts on a compelling performance from the beginning to the end. Her facial expressions portray perfectly the dismay and horror she experiences in the monstrous human hamster maze. To act with so little dialogue can’t be an easy feat, Weiss however, steps up to the challenge and smashed the proverbial ball out of the park.
There’s too little seen of the handful of other characters to hold any real opinion. Adam plays a chilling performance as what I can only assume to be Lisa’s captor but sadly holds very little screen time. While the only other characters in the movie are either disfigured monsters, a floating skull, or Lisa’s family; shown as she watches strange videos of her past life and the deeply upsetting death of her only daughter.
Meander’s claustrophobia-inducing atmosphere works perfectly with horror cinema. Playing on very real fears, the movie pulls you in and amplifies any fears of closed spaces to elaborate extents. Weiss gives a stellar performance throughout, adding to the omnipresent sense of unease that carries through the movie.
With that being said, there do exist a few moments that really shouldn’t have made the final cut. The floating skull, for one, could have been vastly improved upon. The finished result was akin to something from a cheesy budget movie of yesteryear.
Overall, Meander is a wholly enjoyable experience that will leave you with many questions but still somehow satisfied. If you have an explanation of the whys and hows; feel free to leave them in the comments.