Road Rash Reviews

Gaia Review***--

Cert 15 | 98 mins | 2021

3 stars of innovative and striking eco-horror.

Gaia is a South African horror film with a very clear message about humanity’s ongoing destruction of the environment. It is written by Tertius Kapp (Rage) and is a promising feature debut for South African director Jaco Bouwer. Featuring some inventive filming techniques, it explores the natural world from angles we don’t normally see, imbuing seemingly innocuous items with a sense of impending doom.

“If they get in, stay against the wall. They’re blind.”

Gaia opens with a sweeping drone shot of a forest in South Africa.

 The drone is piloted by Forest Ranger Gabi (Monique Rockman – Number 37) who is being rowed down the river by her boss Winston (Anthony Oseyemi – The Salvation) on a routine mission to check their cameras. It uses some very strange camera angles which is quite disorientating and leads the way nicely for the haunting trip to come.

Gabi loses touch with the drone, as it encounters a man in the forest just before the signal cuts out. Adamant that it is now trash and must not be left behind, Gabi is determined to go and fetch it, against all of Winston’s warnings that people  go missing in this forest. Off she goes, but it’s not long before she runs into trouble, trying to get away from a strange looking creature, she stumbles into a trap set by the very man she saw on the camera, Barend. Winston meanwhile makes the foolish decision to follow her into the forest.

Injured, she finds her way to a cabin in the forest, where she lies down, to be found by Barend (Carel Nel – Grant, Roots) and his son Stefan (Alex van Dyk – The Harvesters) the owners of the cabin. They turn out to be off-the-grid survivalists who have been living in this forest for years.


They are an odd pair, very intense and it soon becomes apparent, quite fanatical too. Barend holds some strong beliefs and superstitions about the forest and about the future of mankind, all relating to an organism which he believes is lying in wait to take over the world and which created the creatures roaming the forest.  Together they will go on a drug fueled voyage into his mad world of the crazed fungus god.

Gaia is certainly an extremely interesting film. The way the main message of the film is presented, through the rantings of a madman and a fanatic allows for the point to be put across without seeming too preachy, pretty clever really.

There are some great special effects too, the monsters are scary in a pervasive way, much like the fungus which riddles their bodies. Anyone who has played The Last of Us will find them extremely familiar, they bear a strong resemblance to the Clickers.

There are also lots of sequences featuring spores and other assorted unknown items floating around in the air, disconcerting enough to make you more aware of the air you are breathing.

The acting is really good too and the characters are believable in an unbelievable situation, which is quite an achievement. It’s not without it’s issues, it’s very confusing in places and will probably leave you with as many questions as answers, but it is timely and makes a point that needs to be made.

Not for the faint hearted, but a compelling watch nevertheless. Full of evocative imagery, it is well worth a watch if only for the experience.

“The largest organism on the planet lives right here, underneath us. Older than human history, it’s been growing, waiting, ripening. And it’s ready to spread.”

Watch GAIA on and other digital platforms from 27 September. 

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DirectorTertius Kapp
GenreHorror, thriller
StarringMonique Rockman, Anthony Oseyemi, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk
Category: Digital, film, Review