The interconnectedness of consciousness

Sensus by The Bunch, reviewed

By: Adam Herman December 14, 2023

Perhaps the most polarizing crew international production company in skiing sets out to redefine the ski movie yet again. Their new project ditches hugging and dancing for microscopes, generative AI and dystopian evolution. Here’s our review.

The Bunch have been making ski films for a while now and had so much influence on the scene, it’s hard to imagine what it would look like without them. While many productions have settled in their lane and release the same flick every year, that’s definitely not the case for the Swedish crew. We’ve seen them go from hoodratting in the streets in the Finess, Far Out and Finito trilogy, track-pant swerving in Color and Elnour to the masterfully produced Anderson-esque award-winning films of recent years like Is There Time For Matching Socks and Many Fantasies Later.

While the streets were slowly replaced by backcountry zones and the tracksuits by Gore-Tex. The skiing remained incredible and the production quality continued to rise as the boys set out to make ski movies that could be enjoyed by die-hards and regulars alike. According to their own words, the aim is to not create mere ski porn, but a film centered around a concept with deliberately picked shots and scenes that tell a coherent story. This year’s “Sensus”, directed by JNilla, takes that idea even further. While I could try to describe the concept with my own words, I’m not sure I’ve got the vocabulary to do that. Here you go.

The Bunch:

"In the midst of our modern distractions, "Sensus" emerges from the void as a cinematic revelation, a journey that challenges perceptions and invites us to ponder the infinite in the everyday.

In the outskirts of the Milky Way Galaxy, a group of hominid life forms sculpted by 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution have not only mastered the art of sliding on frozen water but have recently stumbled upon a swarm of profound and enigmatic technology.

This newfound discovery sparks a universal exploration, delving into the mysteries of existence and the astonishing chain of events that led to this moment, and what may lie beyond.

The film navigates the eternal dance between light and dark, it probes the enigma of consciousness and the transformative potential of emerging technologies.

Exploring the interconnectedness of all things, intertwining the thrill of freeskiing with a contemplative look at life's deeper questions.

Sensus is a voyage into the heart of mystery, a delicate unraveling of the intricate threads that bind us to this moment in time, and a compelling thrust towards the mysteries that stretch out, vast and untamed, beyond our understanding."

A ski movie that explores the interconnectedness of consciousness, hominid life forms and enigmatic technology? LFG.

Peyben flying through Ruka, Credit: Alric Ljunghager

As promised, the film starts off on the outskirts of the Milky Way and slowly takes us to Ruka to follow an unknown skier boosting through the trees with nothing but a headlamp, because, also as promised, it’s night-time. The beautiful FPV follow cams are cut with images of microorganisms evolving into more complex creatures. As the real-world shots get brighter and we go from the slopes of Ruka to a black-and-white freeride segment, the AI visuals start to include creepy birds and mammals. The evolutionary parallel, that continues throughout the whole movie, eventually passes the stone age and we reach peak human in the form of cork 7s on backcountry kickers in full color. If you were worried I’m going to spoil what’s the skiing metaphor for a dystopian future where AGI rules the world, don’t worry. I’ll stop right here.

Peyben turning, Credit: Alric Ljunghager

Sensus feels very different to what you’re used to seeing from The Bunch. The recent offerings were feel-good movies with long establishing scenes where Magnus and Krypto discuss the intricacies of a down rail. Sensus is much faster-paced, dark and impersonal with visuals straight from a Ghostemane music video. So impersonal in fact, that you never know who the skier you’re watching even is (unless he’s on Heads then it’s Emil). The skier is here purely for aesthetics and the story is told by the cinematography and generative AI. And no, no more dancing either.

I don’t think anybody is surprised that production-wise this is absolute perfection. Almost the entire movie was filmed on FPV drones, whose pilots I admired more than the skiers at times. The downside to this approach is that it’s almost impossible to record sound as all you’d hear is the buzzing of drone blades. That’s why almost all ski-snow noises were added in post by Hugo Burvall himself, and I guarantee you wouldn’t be able to tell. Not that you’d be listening to those anyway as he also composed a banger of an original score for the whole thing which goes so well with JNilla’s editing and the visuals. Which definitely add to the experience here and fit the vibe of the project, while not stealing the show too much. The same goes for the story - it’s here for those who are paying attention, but doesn’t stand in the way of the skiing.

Emil Granbom setting up a drone on Peyben´s head, Credit: Alric Ljunghager

Skiing, almost forgot about that. Not that there’s not enough of it. But this time it really feels like a bit of an after thought. When you’re used to The Bunch pushing skiing with creative tricks and consequential features, it does feel disappointing watching someone do swerve turns and 3s through a mellow forrest for 5 minutes. Ok, that was just the intro right? The next part has daylight, and proper mountains! It does. Plus now you get to see all the turns from different angles! You get the point. Of course this is a bit of an exaggeration. There’s some gnarly cliffs, backcountry kickers and one street hit in the second half of the movie. But you can tell impressive skiing wasn’t the main focus here.

Understandably so, The Bunch is not just a ski crew anymore. Similarly to what Nick Martini did a few years ago with Stept, the boys are now running a full blown production studio and a red ski company on top. Naturally there won’t be as much time or motivation to eat shit in the streets all year, when you've got Adidas commercials to film.

Overall though, Sensus is an incredibly enjoyable watch, and it’s totally different from anything else skiing related you’re going to watch this year. It feels more like an art film with skiing as its subject, than your regular ski movie and I’m all for it. I just wish we could pair this vibe, filming and editing with the crew’s skiing from a couple of years ago.

Now go get your homies, shrooms and a good sound system and enjoy the trip.