When cybergoth teenager Lucidia (Alexa Davies) disappears, her Finnish archaeologist father must delve into her Surrey-based fluoro-fringed subculture to find her. Meanwhile, Lucidia’s friends speculate on what may have happened: did she kill herself, like her mother did? Or was she abducted by aliens?
How much you enjoy Alex Taylor's scatty debut will depend very much on your tolerance for teenagers talking earnestly about vampires, unicorns, rainbows and black holes.
Though it ostensibly concerns the disappearance of cybergoth Lucidia – who may have been snatched away by aliens (or not) – and her treasure-hunting, former roadie father’s efforts to find her, Spaceship swerves clear of narrative convention and coherence.
Voiceovers babble about things apparently unconnected to what’s happening on screen; snatches of talking-head interviews with teens regularly butt into the action; and Lucidia’s self-absorbed friends indulge each other’s escapist urges in a loose collage of oddball skits. One, for example, sees the cyan-frizzed Alice (Tallulah Haddon) taking her platform-trainered boyfriend on sub-dom dog walks in a leafy suburb, in a rather showy display of their convention-defying otherness.
Influenced by Harmony Korine and Larry Clark, the Hackney-born Taylor has said he “wants to make films which give people the courage to love themselves in all their weirdness”. Well, Spaceship is certainly bold and weird, but it’s honestly hard to love his characters, so tightly sealed are they in a bubble of colourful artifice and flowery non sequiturs. Lucidia’s dad’s quest to find his missing daughter provides some much-needed emotional propulsion (given her mother committed suicide many years earlier, he’s understandably distraught), but it’s a plot thread that rapidly frays as he discovers one of her friends is the spit of his dead wife (that old chestnut) and wanders blearily into a cybergoth nightclub where MDMA-fuelled teens dress as aliens.
The prevailing mood, then, is one of disconnection – which ultimately leads to disinterest. Maybe that’s the point; there is something of a stroppy ‘whatever’ shrug to the film’s vibe. Despite being blessed with an icy-cool, electronica-tinged soundtrack and some strong performances from its young, unknown cast, that does make it tough to engage with.
For all its verve and creative enthusiasm, Spaceship’s oblique and flighty nature leaves it feeling decidedly niche.