Chattanooga Film Festival 2024: ‘The Fix’ Creates A Captivating and Prescient Dystopian World

Credit: Slated Productions

Nothing makes me hesitant about a film faster than seeing the word “dystopian” in the description. I am, personally, very uncomfortable with confronting the all too real possibility that an nonviable future is on the horizon for humankind so I usually just avoid the topic. All this is to say that if I gingerly go into such a film and come out screaming its praises, you know it must be a good one. This is where I land with writer/director Kelsey Egan’s ‘The Fix.’ In her intro clip ahead of the Chattanooga Film Festival screening Egan states that she wrote this film in 2014 and it’s truly amazing how prescient the story is.

In a seemingly not too distant future a toxic compound has infected the earth’s atmosphere. While folks can wear masks to avoid the damage this toxin does, a large pharmaceutical company has introduced a drug that can be taken daily to provide immunity without the hassle of a mask. Of course such a miracle drug is not free, so many people can’t afford it–even with government subsidies. In addition to this, the source of this drug is not renewable and as time goes on it will become even more unattainable for most.

Ella (Grace Van Dien), a model, is the face of the company’s ads. While navigating the problems plaguing the globe she is dealing with her own grief and crumbling relationships. In an act of desperation she takes a large dose of a seemingly random drug she finds at a party. As the dose sets in her side effects spiral out of control she is pursued by dangerous gangs as well as authorities. While all she wants is something to reverse the effects of the drug, the results of the dose might be what is needed to save the human race.

This film took Egan 10 years to make and the result is worth the wait. The effects and set design elevate this independent feature into a world creating cinematic experience.  Van Dien is captivating as Ella. The role is both physical and emotional and she keeps the viewer held rapt for the entire runtime. Everything comes together to make ‘The Fix’ feel really big and the stakes feel really high.

As you can imagine there are a lot of aspects to this film that seem “too real” as we are still in the midst of a global airborne health crisis. Though it was written before our current circumstances began Egan doesn’t hold back on the commentary around who those in positions of power deem fit to live and who is expendable. Alongside the obvious themes of racism and classism there are nods to eugenics, which never fails to rear its ugly head when it’s time to decide who is worthy of receiving government assistance. ‘The Fix’ is a very pointed indictment of the perils of capitalism in public health, perils many of us are acutely aware of these days.

Where this film really goes to the next level is when it poses the question “are you willing to evolve to survive?” Egan puts her characters into situations where the choice is “change or die” and lets us see which path each one chooses. You are left wondering not which choice is right, but which choice you would make yourself. I think viewers will come away from ‘The Fix’ with a lot to think about and even a bit of hope.

Chattanooga Film Festival 2024: ‘The Fix’ Creates A Captivating and Prescient Dystopian World