Inspired by and produced during the 2020 lockdown, writer-director Naeem Mahmood’s sci-fi thriller is a feature film without budget, script, or studied logistics.
The world is stifled by an autocracy which frowns on speech or intimacy where the mantra is “stay safe, stay apart”. A silent, cowed, mask-wearing majority is challenged by a creative, anti-establishment force pushing for freedom.
The behaviour of those like Kid (Kyd Nereida), King (Ricki Hall), and Oracle (Michael Hagan) is both spontaneous and dangerous, picking at the edges of what is acceptable.
Mahmood’s seductive and sensuous film looks a million dollars while tackling big questions around state and religious control, public safety, and the uniqueness of self.
With vivid colours and a soundscape which runs from the musical to the discordant, Gods of Their Own Religion is set to shock.
Childhood flashbacks between Kid and her friend C2 (Christopher Chang) move into an uneasy present, a disturbing fantasia, and a violent and unsettling finale.
With echoes of Lynch, Jarman, and even Warhol, this is film-making that takes risks, and rips away convention. It clearly calls for the flourishing of creativity, and even making the film was a transgression when we were all instructed to “stay home – save lives.”
The masked populace do not live in the moment but watch in quiet and obedient fear, where the state is their parent, dictator, and saviour. They do not question or doubt.
Dealing with the state as totalitarian cult is not a new perspective in this age of protest and passive action. You can see the anti-vaxxers as one strand of this, Just Stop Oil as another.
Gods of Their Own Religion is a clever and engrossing piece. It perhaps leaves us with more questions than answers, and exists with the bare minimum of dialogue.
The world here is one of the heart, the head, the human. It is dark and malicious but refreshingly free, whether following religious dogma or seeking physical abandon in the forbidden.
Gods of Their Own Religion premieres on 23 Nov at Cineworld Leicester Square with trailer and tickets here.