The sci-fi documentary that must be experienced: "Dead Slow Ahead"

A good and universal film that shows that the boundaries between the surreal and the real are actually quite blurred.

Nov 26, 2023 - 07:32
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The sci-fi documentary that must be experienced: "Dead Slow Ahead"

The sci-fi documentary "Dead Slow Ahead" is Mauro Herce's feature debut. This is a documentary film that follows the haunted voyage of the cargo ship Fair Lady, but it is a harsh hidden camera factography about people at work, technical details, external influences, and rituals of survival in a seemingly vast, but actually confined space. Although, that's how it starts, with a sound scheme made up of the roar of machines and waves, penetrating radar signals that "ping" and mumbled-hissing commands that we hear over the public address system. The crew performs their tasks and everything seems to be going according to the plan, although communication is minimal, and the atmosphere is tense.

What is brewing is "just" an ordinary storm, first seen from a distance as a two-centered hurricane system. Wind and waves will not sink the ship, because otherwise there would be no film, but they will certainly leave consequences. Water has entered the cargo area and is threatening its destruction, loss to the shipping company, and endangering the existence of the crew. The damage needs to be repaired as soon as possible and effectively, in just a few long and measured shots we see the essence of this film: how small man is not only in relation to nature but also in relation to the construction he made himself. A metaphor for capitalism? Maybe, even probably, but not particularly important.

What happens next?

It is at this point that Herce starts playing with psychology and our perception, the Fair Lady's journey becomes a dystopian technological horror, and the atmosphere turns surreal and irrational. That certainty and reliability, clarity and conciseness from the beginning now seem so far away. Quite simply, our point of support was thrown out and we lost our orientation. It seems Fair Lady too. If it is not a question of survival, any comfort is impossible. Based on bits and pieces of information, such as a karaoke party for the crew, their conversations with their families, and incidental information about the crackling of the radio link, it is clear to us that their fate is uncertain.

Finally, here's an idea. Even if the storm hadn't hit them and all the instruments were in order. That degree of isolation is simply not natural and affects the psyche. That's why "Dead Slow Ahead" is such a good and universal film. Mauro Herce manages to show without any comment how something we perceive as surreal becomes real every day to someone and how the boundaries between the two are actually quite blurred. We absolutely recommend this movie.


Post By: Vanessa F.