Review by Tom Swift
A computer program drives its developers to murder, then snatches their souls for cyberspace.
This intense, edgy and electrifying neurotic indie film owes a debt of gratitude to big movies where people jump into cyberspace. The Matrix, and Inception played in this cosmos, but they were also intense, though perhaps overwrought, action movies.
This film opens with dead programmers all over the place at a soft ware startup that’ developing the ultimate surveillance software. Well, surveillance software is the core of CBS’s Person of Interest. And just to make things interesting, apparently, our hero here, Brett Desmond, kind of looks like Edward Snowden, and he’s in deep legal trouble with the Fed’s for being a whistle blower.
With a loving wife and daughter back home sweating out his legal troubles, Brett is brought in to finish off the surveillance software, Roper, with the promise that his legal problems will go away if he delivers the programming by the ship date. Well, it turns out that the programmers don’t’ program Roper, Roper programs the programmers to become murderers then suicides. A wisp of soul then enters the laptop and the programmer lives forever within cyberspace, hopefully in the subdivision called hell.
The film has the claustrophobia of all good low budget horror movies. The office is the soulless one of a startup: desks, computers, college room posters on the walls. We watch the film through four split screens generated by Roper. The computer toys with the programmers –like a sadist with a whip.
I watched this on a computer and maybe because of that, my heart pounded through most of it. Brett is relatable as a good guy who tried to do good but is now being tortured for his whistleblowing. This makes you kind of wonder if Edward Snowden is looking forward to another winter in Moscow.
Andrew West of The Walking Dead plays Brett with the eagerness of someone trying to break out of episodic TV. He seems to have been replaced by a body double during the last part of the film. Maybe that means something, I don’t know. But the film loses something by not going all The Shining at the end. Personally, I was tired of being scared by then.