The high concept is simple. For unknown reasons amnesiac Liam Hartwell (Klattenhoff) is a walking, talking death machine. Anyone within a fifty-foot radius of him keels over, instantly collapsing in a lifeless heap. As the bodies pile up he hides out in a remote farmhouse, shut off from people. Overcome by guilt, he grapples with his condition, trying to formulate a life plan that does not involve instantaneous mortality for those in his circle.
Into this charged situation comes Jane Doe (Sullivan), another amnesiac who is immune to his death stare. Turns out when she’s around, everyone who comes into the kill zone is also safe. The pair hit the road in an effort to piece together the fragments of memory that haunt them both and hopefully get to the bottom of Liam’s deadly disorder.
The big challenge of “Radius” is keeping the mystery compelling for ninety minutes. It’s an intriguing idea, but it’s also a one-note idea. Until Jane shows up, that is. Then the ”Twilight Zone” premise opens up, allowing for deeper mystery and questions about the very essence of how memory shapes who we are as people. Writer-directors Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard gently pull the story into focus, beginning with scenes of disorientation that give way to an ending that packs an emotional wallop.
“Radius” is not without its flaws. The film’s budgetary restrictions are apparent throughout and there is some stilted acting but this is intelligent sci fi, a film whose ideas and open-ended questions are more important than its budget.