Well, although I hadn’t planned to write an extra review tonight, I happened upon a really interesting-looking “Blade Runner” fan film on Youtube called “Tears In The Rain“. Although this fan film was released in January, I somehow didn’t even hear about it until earlier tonight. So, I thought that I’d review it.
Needless to say, this review will contain SPOILERS.
So, let’s take a look at “Tears In The Rain”:
“Tears In The Rain” is an 11-minute unofficial prequel to the original “Blade Runner” created by Christopher Grant Harvey. Taking place in some unspecified year in the early 21st Century, the film follows a Blade Runner called John Kampff, who travels to a diner in order to retire a Nexus-3 replicant called Andy Smith.
One of the very first things that I will say about this short film is that it is remarkably true to both the spirit and the look of the original “Blade Runner” (kind of like the official prequel anime to “Blade Runner 2049” was).
Although it is probably bordering on heresy to suggest this, this low-budget fan film is possibly more “Blade Runner” than “Blade Runner 2049” was in terms of style, atmosphere, dialogue, tone, characters and music.
Seriously, I loved “Blade Runner 2049”. But, there really wasn’t enough of this in it!
A lot of why this fan film is so true to the spirit of the original film is because of it’s small scale. Unlike the vast barrage of different locations in “Blade Runner 2049”, this fan film focuses on a tiny number of detailed locations (like how most of the original “Blade Runner” just took place in a few buildings and a couple of streets). Likewise, the drama of the film is a lot more small-scale too. Again, this is much more in keeping with the original “Blade Runner”.
Yay! Small-scale drama 🙂
Plus, the dialogue and acting in this fan film is amazing. The main centrepiece of the film is a discussion between Kampff and Andy in the diner. Whilst Andy dies from a slow-acting poison, Kampff taunts him about his memories and expresses jealousy about the enhanced lives of replicants. This discussion is filled with the kind of philosophical exchanges and ambiguity that you would expect from a “Blade Runner” film. Plus, the ending to this fan film is absolutely genius. But I won’t spoil it.
Like in both the original “Blade Runner” and “Blade Runner 2049”, this fan film explores the theme of the replicants having more humanity than actual humans. Throughout the film, Andy comes across as a friendly, likeable old man.
His costume design also evokes both Chew’s and J.F.Sebastian’s outfits in the original film too.
Kampff, on the other hand, comes across as a cruel man who seems to relish the task of killing replicants. Not only is this in keeping with the themes of the original film, but it also highlights the fact that the Blade Runners are probably the villains in the official films.
Seriously, I cannot praise the chillingly understated menace in this scene highly enough. This actor needs to be in more films!
Of course, being a fan film, there are some clever references to the original film too. Although the verbatim quoting of Deckard and Leon’s dialogue when Kampff and Andy meet seems a little bit contrived, there’s an absolutely brilliant scene where Kampff points out that one of Andy’s artificial memories involves his wife leaving him for J.F. Sebastian. When Andy questions how Kampff knows this, Kampff says that it’s an “inside joke” and then talks briefly about J.F’s terrible love life. Then there’s also the part where Kampff talks about how he can tell someone is a replicant by looking at their eyes.
[Edit: Plus, of course, Andy’s name is a reference to the androids in “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” too. How could I have missed this?]
Although he doesn’t appear in the film, I’m curious about Voight too. Where’s his film?
In terms of music, this fan film is beautiful. Whilst the film features new and original music, it is very much in keeping with the general style and tone of Vangelis’ spectacular score for the original film. Likewise, the film includes some brilliant “Blade Runner”-style ambient background noise too. The musical consistency in this low-budget fan film evokes a consistent atmosphere in a way that the more varied music in “Blade Runner 2049” doesn’t always achieve.
In terms of special effects, lighting and set design, you wouldn’t believe that this film was apparently only made for $1500! The film covers up it’s low budget status very well by initially dazzling the viewer with a really cool-looking CGI sequence and then spending the rest of the film in a small, but convincingly detailed, futuristic diner. Seriously, this film looks like it was made with ten times the budget it actually was. My only complaint is the heavy use of lens flare in some scenes, but this can be excused since it helps to cover up the low-budget set design.
J.J. Abrams take note, this is one of the few situations where lens flare actually improves a film.
All in all, Hollywood needs to hire the director of this short film to make the third “Blade Runner” movie! If he can do something as spectacular as this for just $1500, then imagine what he could do with even a small Hollywood budget! Although the “Blade Runner” films were never box office blockbusters, this unofficial fan film shows that this amazing series could potentially have a glorious future as a more low-budget thing.
Plus, this fan film focuses on the heart of what makes “Blade Runner” Blade Runner. I’m talking about small-scale drama, ambiguous characters, semi-realistic set design and an oppressively gloomy – yet visually beautiful- atmosphere. Best of all, since it’s a non-commercial fan film, you can watch it for free on Youtube. Even though it obviously isn’t canon, it’s still a must-watch if you even vaguely like the “Blade Runner” films 🙂
If I had to give it a rating out of five, it would get at least four and a half.