From Dark Comedy Mastermind to Sci-Fi Maverick: Cory Finley’s Unmissable Film That’s Reshaping the Genre!

Cory Finley, transitioning from playwright to filmmaker, made a significant impact in 2017 with his directorial debut ‘Thoroughbreds’ – a darkly comedic teen thriller that rapidly gained a dedicated following. Subsequently, Finley shifted his focus to directing, overseeing projects like the HBO movie ‘Bad Education’ and several episodes for AppleTV+’s ‘WeCrashed.’

The anticipation surrounding his second film prompted speculation about his follow-up to the successful debut. The answer emerged at the opposite end of the genre spectrum. After the sleek, action-oriented ‘Thoroughbreds,’ Finley delved into M.T. Anderson’s sci-fi romantic drama, ‘Landscape With Invisible Hand.’ The result revealed Finley’s versatility as more than just a purveyor of dark comedy; he’s an emerging auteur adept at navigating the uncharted territories of boundary-pushing sci-fi. ‘Landscape With Invisible Hand’ arrives as an antidote to the prevailing sci-fi franchise trend, offering exactly what the cinematic landscape craves in 2023.

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The narrative of ‘Landscape With Invisible Hand’ follows the journey of teenage artist Adam Campbell (Asante Blackk) as he grapples with a rapidly changing world. The intrusion of the Vuvv, an alien species devoid of human courtship norms, heralds a seismic shift in society. Vuvv technology triggers the collapse of institutions, the affluent forsake Earth for the Vuvv ship, and Adam’s mother (Tiffany Haddish) faces the struggle for employment. As Chloe (Kylie Rogers) enters Adam’s life and her family moves into his home’s basement, a romance blossoms, broadcasted via livestream to a world captivated by the enigmatic Vuvv.

As their relationship takes unpredictable turns, accusations of deceit from the Vuvv propel Adam and Chloe into absurd scenarios treated with earnest solemnity, creating an intriguing blend of humor and gravity. Tiffany Haddish, renowned for her comedic prowess, surprises with a deadpan performance, juxtaposing the alien presence for comedic effect.

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Remarkably, the interaction between humans and the Vuvv opens a window into the exploration of Americana, nostalgia, the nuclear family, and our collective responses in times of crisis.

Beneath the surface, the film delves into the essence of being an artist when art itself becomes both a pressing necessity and a challenge. In the quest for survival, the question emerges: why continue to create? This existential inquiry, familiar to artists, remains unresolved for Adam. What drives him is the realization that creation is a means to mark time, articulate identity, and, most crucially, inspire others.

While human dynamics underpin the core narrative, the visual intrigue lies in the Vuvv creature design. Limited source material led Finley and VFX supervisor Erik de Boer to conjure squat, enigmatic beings with mouth-like openings evoking an eerie resemblance. This purposeful design discordantly contrasts the grounded world, serving as a striking visual motif.

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The deliberate otherworldliness of the Vuvv design is both mesmerizing and unforgettable.

Science fiction often carries the weight of saving the world and vanquishing extraterrestrial threats. Yet, there are occasions when the objective is more intimate. Adam’s pursuit centers on securing his family’s future, reconciling with his father’s abandonment, and nurturing his artistic expression. His goal isn’t global salvation, but a personal quest to reclaim his world. This approach defines Finley’s filmmaking identity – a distinctive blend of human stories interwoven with unconventional twists, whether they involve murder, fraud, or aliens sporting unconventional mouths.

While another sci-fi venture may not be imminent for Finley, ‘Landscape With Invisible Hand’ serves as an inspirational template for future sci-fi franchises. The film demonstrates that a high-stakes invasion isn’t requisite; a high-stakes emotional narrative can deliver equally captivating cinematic experiences.

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