Calvin Lee Reeder’s Genre-Blending Sci-Fi Horror Entertains Through Its Mishaps


  • The A-Frame delves into a scientist’s pursuit of scientific innovation, blurring the lines between ethics and hastened advancement.
  • Despite genre-blending mishaps, the film offers thought-provoking commentary on the importance of ethical medical procedures and innovation.
  • Johnny Whitworth delivers a compelling performance in a tale that balances entertainment with an exploration of false hope and ethical dilemmas.

The mad scientist trope has been thoroughly explored throughout film history. Typically, the story involves the pursuit of scientific innovation that leads to bizarre side effects that render the experiments dangerous. But what would happen if a groundbreaking achievement were discovered inadvertently? Should the inventor further explore the protocols or rush to test human subjects? In Calvin Lee Reeder’s creative sci-fi horror thriller, The A-Frame, ethics and hastened innovation are in battle for the search for life-saving discoveries. An intriguing blend of genres and themes, The A-Frame fulfills its promise to excite and entertain even with its mishaps.

The A-Frame Introduces Intriguing Conversations About Scientific Innovation & Ethics

In one of the opening sequences of the film, we meet Donna (Dana Namerode), a seemingly anxious young woman who plays piano in her friends’ band. Lying on a massage table, Donna receives Reiki therapy. She’s willing to try any nontraditional method to avoid losing her right hand to amputation after being diagnosed with cancer. While she awaits an appointment at her physician’s office, she meets Sam (Johnny Whitworth), a man who promises her a positive outcome from an unorthodox alternative to the doctor’s orders.

Sam is a quantum physicist desperate to uncover the truths about a subatomic universe. While attempting to open portals to this other world and improve the machine’s efficiency, he accidentally discovers a radical cure for cancer. Ready to legitimize his work and make it a staple in both fields, Sam hacks into hospitals to examine the records of patients. He is in desperate need of a participant who is willing to serve as the first patient in his human trials — ethical codes and proper investigative work be damned.

An intriguing blend of genres and themes, The A-Frame fulfills its promise to excite and entertain even with its mishaps.

Reeder’s latest feature brings up interesting and thought-provoking conversations about ethics and scientific advancement. Conceptually, the narrative is one that is easy to find interesting, especially considering the “post-pandemic” world we live in today. Whitworth’s Sam seems to be interested in making a mark in the quantum physics world and medical progress. But when things go awry, he takes on that mad scientist persona and shifts his priorities away from ethical procedures to achieving his goals, no matter how many people he has to hurt in the process.

The A-Frame’s Genre-Blending Isn’t Always Effective

But the film is thoroughly entertaining regardless

The script effectively examines Sam’s gradual descent to madness in a way that offers laugh-out-loud moments. There are times when a more serious tone takes priority, like when Donna attends her cancer support group sessions and when other patients begin to accept their fates. However, the film occasionally suffers from tonal whiplash as a result of blending genres and implementing humor where it doesn’t always fit. Perhaps it’s a way for Reeder to materialize the inherent kookiness that comes from a script of this nature. Whatever the intent, it doesn’t always work, though there’s no denying the film’s entertainment value.

One thing that would have strengthened The A-Frame further is a full embrace of more horror film elements. Avoiding these to implement mystery and even humor often leads to the diminishing quality of the watching experience. Framed as a Cronenberg-like film only hurts The A-Frame in the long run, especially since the film’s body-horror elements are few and far between. We never gain insight into Sam’s psyche — we’re supposed to just accept that he’s a mad scientist with no further background information.

Despite not having a full character study of Donna or Sam, the cast delivers strong enough performances to maintain the level of entertainment needed to keep us engaged. Whitworth, in particular, teeters on a thin line between charming and creepy in such an effective way that it leaves you with a level of uncertainty and discomfort. These competing feelings are enough to keep you on the edge of your seat while also providing a sense of hope that things will work out in the end. Namerode’s more reserved performance is a nice addition to balance the wonky storyline that develops.

An intriguing tale of ethics, scientific discovery, and false hope, Reeder’s The A-Frame is a nice journey through the mind of a mad scientist. The creative concept implements some thought-provoking commentary about the importance of using ethical procedures to advance medical innovation. While the film doesn’t properly balance its genre-blending and tones, Whitworth and Namerode carry the script through their performances and intense chemistry. It may play its cards too safely, but The A-Frame delivers the entertainment exactly when it needs to.

The A-Frame premiered at the 2024 Tribeca Film Festival.

A quantum physicist develops a machine that creates a tunnel to a subatomic universe. In his quest to prove the machine’s efficacy, he inadvertently discovers a radical treatment for cancer.


  • Johnny Whitworth gives a creepy, scene-stealing performance
  • The script is thought-provoking in how it examines ethics and scientific innovation

  • The genre-blending and tonal shifts aren’t always effective
  • The script plays it safe with the horror elements

Source link

Leave a Reply