A trailer has been released for forthcoming science fiction thriller, Higher Power, which showcases visual effects far beyond the movie's modest budget. Higher Power marks the directorial debut of Matthew Charles Santoro, a visual effects artist who has previously worked on the likes of 300, X-Men: The Last Stand and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Unfortunately, Santoro hasn't been afforded the luxury of a superhero-sized budget to craft Higher Power and, as a result, has put together most of the movie's visual effects by his own hand. After several years in development, Higher Power is finally complete and has been picked up by Magnolia.
As well as manning the director's chair, Santoro also wrote the movie's script alongside Julia Fair. Interestingly, Lorenzo di Bonaventura of Transformers and G.I. Joe fame acted as a producer on the project. In terms of on-screen personnel, Higher Power stars Ron Eldard (E.R., Super 8) as lead protagonist Joe Steadman and Jordan Hinson (Breaking & Exiting) as his daughter, Zoe. Colm Feore (House of Cards, 24) appears to be on villain duty as Joe's tormentor-in-chief. The plot sees Earth threatened by a huge cosmic event and unwitting Joe Steadman is made the subject of a sadistic experiment that could be the planet's only hope of survival.
The first official trailer for Higher Power has now dropped via Apple. The clip sets up the threat of a "gamma ray burst" set to destroy Earth and introduces Joe, who promptly gets abducted. Upon waking, Joe is fed instructions remotely by a mad scientist type, with his daughter's life forfeit should he not comply. As Joe's crime spree escalates, he appears to be waking incredible superhuman abilities and the trailer confirms that the angrier Joe becomes, the more powerful he gets. Could this stunning transformation be the key to saving the world?
Undoubtedly, the most impressive and instantly striking part of the trailer is the quality of the visual effects, especially when considering Higher Power's reported $500,000-ish budget. The look of Joe's powers is more or less on par with what you'd expect to see in a superhero blockbuster and the crashing plane sequence is entirely convincing. Perhaps the most stunning moment, however, is the giant Doctor Manhattan-esque energy titan roaming among the city's skyscrapers.
Certainly, it's hard to argue that Higher Power doesn't look like it'll be a visual feast and although having a professional visual effects artist as a director probably helped in this regard, it's interesting that a small-budget indie flick could produce CGI of such a high standard while major studio production Justice League suffers widespread ridicule for sloppily removing Henry Cavill's facial hair. Perhaps the lesson here is that money (although definitely useful) doesn't necessarily equate to quality effects and isn't as important as the level of effort and the amount of time being put in to making something look special. Higher Power is clearly a labor of love on the director's part and that attention to detail is already shining through.
Higher Power is released in theaters on May 11th.