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Frequently drifting between reality, dream, and a bad trip, Gaia can come across as overbearing. The multiple indulgent compilation sequences, quick cutting between unsettling non sequitur images track with a current trend of psycho-cerebral, ultra indie horror flicks. Even so, director Jaco Bouwer, manages to keep the film grounded by minding a few core principles of story telling. The small, power house ensemble is perfectly cast. Monique Rockman, in the role of Gabi, delivers a multi facetted performance that transcends any "final girl" trope, while award winning, Carel Nel, runs away with the tormented father character of Barend, bringing to life a jaw dropping monologue as a man teetering on the edge of religious insanity and biological genius. The beautiful and terrifying creature's of Gaia's enchanted forest are equally responsible for the success of the film as its perfectly realized cast of characters. The fungal creature's vibrant exterior juxtaposed with its absolute brutality and inevitability is enthralling. The monster makeups are worthy of an art exhibition at any stage of transformation. At face value, Gaia falls in with a crowd of under written, over indulgent, mushroom induced trippy indy flicks, but it's depth and execution allow it to crop to the top of the heap.




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