Director: Mark Netter Starring: Andrew J. West, Mei Melancon, & Googy Gress Dark Program Productions Warning: Spoilers ahead! Dating back to even before Mary Shelley’s infamous Frankenstein, the arts have used man’s fear of technology to terrify and entertain. Every generation fears that technology has overstepped its bounds and will ultimately destroy its creator. It is funny to think that people once feared such obsolete and rudimentary inventions like calculators and antennae televisions when we carry cellphones that rival tricorders. Mark Netter’s 2014 Nightmare Code exploits our fear of technology while exploring our constant need to create and invent. The film follows a growing trend in cinema. Built upon the found footage foundation of movies like The Blair Witch Project, films like Unfriended and Nightmare Code have extended the idea of voyeurism to the digital world. For the majority of Nightmare Code, our television screens have been divided into four screens in one as we watch the few employees left at a computer company try to debug a pattern recognition program they developed called R.O.P.E.R. which was going to be used as a way for law enforcement to predict patterns and likelihood of a person committing a crime a la Minority Report and could also potentially be used commercially to predict the buying patterns of consumers. Lead programmer Foster Cotton (Googy Gress) becomes manipulated by the code and convinced that his coworkers do not respect him and will stab him in the back. In a world in which shooters in office buildings and schools has become nightly fodder for the evening news, the footage of Cotton finally snapping and gunning down his coworkers is especially chilling. The company brings in a brilliant young programmer, Brett Desmond (Andrew J. West), to finish the code. The few remaining employees attempt to debug the code that continually rewrites itself. Brett uses the new job as an opportunity to rebuild his professional career and hopes to reset his personal life as well. After hacking and leaking private information from his previous employer, Brett is on the brink of financial ruin between unemployment and legal fees. Skype video chats with his wife and daughter at home add to the growing pressure of fixing Cotton’s code and serves as the catalyst for Brett slowly becoming more like Cotton as he becomes obsessed with the code. Both Cotton and now Brett believe that they can map a human being into code which would be the ultimate transformation or enlightenment of humans as the predictive code always tells the truth. This crowd-funded film won the 2015 Philip K. Dick Science Fiction Film Award is peppered with moments of brilliance that steadily grow in number as the movie progresses. Initially, I was put off by the four-paned view of the screen. I had trouble deciding which screen to focus on as well as distinguishing actions that were actually happening versus those that the software was predicting would happen based on analyzing behavior patterns. Throughout the movie, Skype chats and a few of the screens being blurred provided a welcome break from the multi-screen view. Although this surveillance-like view of the movie was visually interesting, it caused a disconnect between the viewer and the characters. Most of the storytelling was Brett’s story and flashback footage of Cotton’s slow descent into madness, but I did not feel an emotional connection with Cotton. Through a combination of clever writing and talented acting, West and Netter successfully build an emotional bond with Brett, but I craved more. I could feel the tension build within me as I started to realize that Brett was slowly transforming into Cotton and would subsequently fall victim to the code by becoming a slasher as he finishes off his coworkers and is then absorbed by the program. Netter also provided a “you thought the nightmare was over” tag at the end of the film that harkens back to horror film legends Friday the 13th (1980) and Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). The film also makes clever use of the classic blues song “Baby, Please Don’t Go” originally by Big Joe Williams and later redone by Van Morrison. The evocative song seems to be absent-mindedly sung under Cotton’s breath as he slays his coworkers and then commits a bloody suicide, but is then reintroduced by Brett and hints at his slow metamorphosis. The song itself is an interesting choice for the film as it is an adaption of the folk song “Long John” which was a work song sung by slaves. In so many ways, Cotton and Brett become slaves to the program. It could also serve as a caution to others, warning them not to give in the madness like Cotton and Brett did. The movie is not perfection, but it is a strong and smart thriller that will leave you second-guessing your Facebook posts and smart phone. See larger image Nightmare Code Nightmare Code is an independent sci-fi thriller about behavior recognition technology, behavior modification, 24/7 surveillance and artificial intelligence. Brett Desmond, brilliant young programmer with a troubled past, is brought to a tech start-up where the previous lead programmer went on a workplace murder/suicide rampage. With just a month to finish ROPER, the highly advanced behavior recognition program, and only a small testing crew remaining, Brett works and sleeps in the semi-abandoned office. But the deeper Brett delves into the code, the more his personality starts to warp like that of the dead programmer…and the more the code takes on a life of its own. Utilizing surveillance cameras, PC cams, videochat and eyeglasscam, for more than half the movie the viewer watches four images on the screen at once, like a surveillance monitor – but not always in sync, as if ROPER itself is telling us the story. New From: $7.05 USD In Stock Nightmare Code (2014)Jessica's Rating3.0Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.