Phase IV (1974)

phase_iv

Two scientists attempting to study the behaviour of a colony of super-intelligent ants come under attack from their subjects and find themselves in a life or death struggle to understand their motives.

Phase IV is one of those oddball “concept” sci-fi movies from the 1970’s of the type they just don’t seem to make any more. It was the sole directorial project by acclaimed graphic designer Saul Bass, who was responsible for many classic movie title sequences from Ocean’s 11 to Psycho, and his keen eye for visual style can be seen throughout the film. It’s a strange amalgam of sci-fi thriller and nature documentary, as the ants are not realised through special effects but rather documentary footage of the real thing transposed into surreal settings. It’s a highly effective method and it achieves a bizarre sense of otherwordliness as the human race comes to grips with an alien intelligence under its very own nose.

It’s a very existential story, relying on analogy and insinuation rather than action and drama but its very strangeness makes it oddly compelling. One of a kind.

6/10

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