Starring: Elanor Wyld, Daniel Fraser, Timothy Block
Directed by: Darren Paul Fisher (“Popcorn”)
Written by: Darren Paul Fisher (“Popcorn”)

Director/writer Darren Paul Fisher packages together some unique ideas about destiny, true love and free will in his sci-fi romance “OXV: The Manual,” but it’s a film so fixed on the philosophical elements of the screenplay it forgets there’s a love story begging for the same attention.

In “OXV,” Zak grows up hoping to one day be compatible to Marie, a machinelike young woman (think “Stepford Wives” without the husband), he has known since prep school. This means Zak must help Marie find a way to change her high “frequency” in order to do something she’s wanted to do her entire life: feel emotion. The problem is that Zak has an “abnormally low frequency” and is “out of sync.” He and Marie are not destined to be with each other and their relationship could end up disturbing the natural order of the world. Even spending more than a minute with each other triggers unnatural incidents to take place. Is it really worth getting killed by luggage falling from the sky just to hold hands with the girl you love? In Zak’s case, maybe.

Taking a page out of a classic work like Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World,” “OXV” makes up its own rules as it goes along and Fisher proves to be a confident screenwriter despite some missteps along the way. The parallel universe we find our main characters in fits well with the story Fisher is trying to tell, but like Marie before she breaks free, the narrative doesn’t provide much sentimental value, especially when her and Zak’s bond strengthens. There’s no doubt Fisher has a creative mind for the genre, but there’s more to intimate sci-fi drama than having bizarre things happen. We need to feel something, too.

“OXV: The Manual” plays at the 2013 Austin Film Festival Friday, Oct. 25 at 9:30 p.m. (IMAX Theater) and Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 7:00 p.m. (Galaxy Highland 10 Theater).

For more Austin Film Festival Coverage, click here. 

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