OREM — Given that Marco Lui is a filmmaker who likes to make movies that are unusual both in topic and approach, his new movie "Cripta" shouldn't be a surprise.
The film, which was screened at the 2014 LDS Film Festival, is a surprise, however, because it doesn't really work. It's all over the place as it tries to blend a video-game approach with an online puzzle that six different teenagers try to solve.
The answers they're seeking are pretty obvious, so the tension that builds each time they try to pass a level feels forced. It's like sitting through a Sunday School lesson where all the answers are the same.
It also goes on too long without a change in how it works. The teens work their keyboards and jump up and down when they succeed. There's no real storyline or movement.
The teen's professor (Lui in old age mode) disappears shortly after introducing the game and is replaced by a younger version of Lui, who plays a man with a split personality.
This man tries to both guide and direct the teens' journey, but he's cryptic and sometimes manic.
The teens all have their scriptures out — even the Goth girl with black makeup — and seem to know where they can find the correct answers.
To Lui's credit, there are some spiritual insights that come across as the teenagers move through the game. So, for those willing to work through the subtitles (many are misspelled or in the wrong English syntax order), there is some reward — a gem here and there.
For those who aren't fans of a frenetic pace and choppy edits, though, this 80-minute film might not be one to seek out.
Lui is an LDS returned missionary and filmmaker from Italy.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.