Ben Howdeshell’s web miniseries Project S.E.R.A. is quickly hurtling towards an end. Working from an earlier short of his, the writer/director teamed up with IGN to expand the sci-fi/horror actioner. The fifth installment of the series has now appeared online, which means we only have one left before we call it a day. Watch the second-to-last chapter below.
This segment of the story finds our heroes Gillian Eames (Julia Voth) and former Navy SEAL Lt. Riggins (Derek Theler) out in the Mojave desert, where their car has a conveniently inconvenient bout of overheating. Just saying, my cobbled-together, 19-year-old station wagon doesn’t overheat as easily as most cars in movies. At least they have the common courtesy to note that the radiator hose in their brand-new Dodge Charger took a round in the earlier firefight.
This breakdown is conveniently inconvenient because there’s no major damage to the car—it’s an easy fix—but it does slow their progress down just enough to allow for tender moment between the protagonists.
Though Project S.E.R.A. generally works best as an action piece—previous episodes have run into problems when they let some characters talk—this is the best quiet, slow moment in the whole run. We get the only real background information we have about Riggins, including the fact that Gillian’s dad gave him a new arm, and there’s talk of what it means to be a hero, and a discussion about the different meanings of the term.
The majority of the first half of episode five is taken up in such a manner, but eventually they do get to where they’re headed, a secret lab in the middle of the desert. This is where they’ll have to foil a plot do sell the illicit biological agent that turns wounded soldiers into bloodthirsty zombies. There’s some action, and a handful of action movie clichés — like Gillian running off unnoticed as Riggins talks — and a dark, poorly lit research facility. You’d think if you’re had the resources to have a secret lab and employ a private army for security purposes, you could afford proper overhead lighting.
The whole time you feel Project S.E.R.A. building up towards its conclusion, and you’re left with something of a cliffhanger. The pacing and narrative are occasionally uneven, but overall this has been a fun, slick little series. I’m looking forward to see how it all wraps up, and also interested to see if that’s it, or if Howdeshell and company have more in store.