[Update: after the Raindance premiere, the film title was changed from Worm to Anti Matter and this review was updated accordingly.]

I was sold on the premise of Anti Matter from the first line in the synopsis: a sci-fi noir take on the Alice in Wonderland tale. What more could you want from a film, right? I didn't even watch the trailer; I simply marked my calendar for the premiere date and waited to (hopefully) have my mind blown.

And. Wow. Anti Matter is impressive enough for a sci-fi film, let alone a first feature film. The attention to detail—from the editing to lighting to filming locations—is incredible and is equally matched by a mesmerizing performance from its star Yaiza Figueroa (that's right—a woman starring in a sci-fi film and she's a badass scientist).

Anti Matter is not about worms (the nature, alive kind) and sort-of, not really about worms (the computer kind), but it is about wormholes. What's a wormhole? You know, it has to do with space and time and…stuff. (Here, Sam Neill explains it pretty well.) Anti Matter is also about questioning who we are and what makes us who we are. There's also a little bit of intrigue and romance tossed in for good measure.

The film wastes no time getting started, cramming introductions, discovery, and testing into the first 10 minutes of the film. We meet Ana (Figueroa) and witness her make a shocking discovery, she brings her trusted friend and lab partner Nate (Tom Barber-Duffy) in on it and they science some more, but soon they need more power so they bring in another scientist/programmer Liv (Philippa Carson) to help them acquire that power via not-so-legal measures (something about a worm and millions of unsuspecting computers and I don't know). Experimenting ensues, banter is exchanged, they all decide that "phase" is what they will call the object movements moving forward, because awesome.

It's exhausting but matches the frantic energy I imagine an excited team would set after literally phasing marbles across the room. It was also necessary to get all that out of the way because the meat of the story occurs after it happens. What's it? Well, after you phase marbles, plants, a caterpillar, mice, and a cat named Tinkles, there's only one thing left. Oh yes: humans. Ana becomes the first test subject and it's a huge success. We think. Hm, maybe not. Okay, definitely not.

Ana wakes up the next day (it is the next day, right?) and is confused. Nate and Liv are acting weird (could her friends actually be trying to sabotage her work?) and someone in a damn-creepy mask is following her around (but who is it?). Even her own mother doesn't seem to trust her. Ana's world starts to unravel and days blend together; she's not eating or drinking and has to take notes just to remember. But is something actually out to get her or is it all in her head? Most people would crumble under these circumstances but Ana pushes ahead, determined to find out the truth. Like I said above: badass.

There's even more plot (animal rights protesting, an epic chase scene, a computer terrorism investigation, a detective with zero regard for people with peanut allergies, and yes, even a pencil/paper demonstration à la Event Horizon) yet somehow it all works and only adds to the surrealness as Ana battles with her mind and the mysterious masked assailant. Also adding to the surrealness is the amazing use of Oxford as a location. The grand architecture is made eerie through extreme angles, over-saturated colours, and plenty of skulking around at night. Basically, I'll be looking over my shoulder to make sure nobody in a mask is following me the next time I go to Oxford.

Anti Matter is the sort of sci-fi film that tugs at your humanity instead of leaving you scratching your head at the science bits. Sure, the science matters but that's not the point. We're meant to wonder about what makes us human and, ultimately, if something like a soul does exist, is there a way to measure it?

RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL runs from 21 September to 2 October 2016. Learn more about the festival here and read more of our festival coverage here. You can catch the next screening of Anti Matter on Tuesday 27th September. Tickets are available here.