The Thomas Beale Cipher is, no doubt, a precious little film. It appears to use a technology similar to rotoscope, except instead of animation over the actors, Allen uses cutouts of patterns and various textures. The movement allows for it to appear three dimensional.
As with most precious items, the style begs examination over the content of the piece itself. Cipher is great to look at and always interesting to watch—Eric Goetz’s music is fantastic, as is Richard Dusatko’s performance as the protagonist—but about halfway through the film it’s clear Allen is never going to get the narrative to a satisfying conclusion.
But being a satisfying narrative stroke doesn’t seem to be Allen’s goal. The film works as an engaging diversion. In some ways, having such a bold animation method works against having a functioning story. The style is too distracting.
Cipher‘s a measured success… definitely form-wise.
Directed by Andrew S. Allen; written by Allen and Josh Froscheiser; music by Eric Goetz; produced by Allen and Jason Sondhi; released by Polymix Studios.
Starring Richard Dusatko & Jeff Zornes (Professor White), Scott Johnson (Detective Black), Michael Falcone & Jason Robison (Henchman James), Falcone & Carl Melanson (Henchman Earl) and Kevin Cox (Sleeping Man).