Winner of the 2015 Philip K.Dick Science Fiction Film Festival Award, writer-director Mark Netter’s NIGHTMARE CODE is “stylish and intelligent” (Horror Asylum) and a “Heir to 2001” (Sensitive Skin).
Brett Desmond, a genius programmer with a troubled past is called in to finish a topsecret behavior recognition program, ROPER, after the previous Lead Programmer went insane. But the deeper Brett delves into the code, the more his own behavior begins changing… in increasingly terrifying ways.
Andrew J. West (The Walking Dead), Mei Melancon (X-Men: The Last Stand) and Googy Gress (Apollo 13) star.
This is a very interesting movie, instead of being told through the POV of the main character, Brett Desmond (Andrew J. West) the perspective is through the Emergent AI itself. This is done in a very clever, if somewhat voyeuristic way, by filming everything from through webcams, security Cameras, and even a pair of web connected glasses. This results in some very odd, mostly fixed, camera angles that might through some viewers off but also features several split screen moments where multiple cameras show the same scene from their angle, sometimes with a time delay, sometimes with bits added in by the AI.
The story follows Brett and his team after he brought in to debug a highly advanced, top secret, behavior recognition program, ROPER, after the previous Lead Programer went on a murderous rampage, killing many of his staff before killing himself. Brett and his team, along with a remote team, and a friend of his a another location, dive into the code to find any problems, but every time they do new problems crop up. What’s more disrupting is that the code almost seems to be rewriting itself.
As Brett digs deeper he also learns more about the original programer, witnessing his eventual mental break. The way these characters interact and the lack of flashy hollywood computer usage was a welcome change for me. I did my share of code writing and debugging in college and could feel their frustration. Forget the flashy screens and multiple person at a keyboard typing away like mad monkeys, this is what debugging code looks like. Mostly bored folks looking for stimulus as they scroll through line after line of text.
To many this may sound boring, but to those of us in the tech industry, it is a welcome change to see what our jobs really look like. The build up is great, and the tension ramps up well, my biggest criticism is the “Deus Ex Machina” that occurs halfway through the movie before things start go sour for Brett. In that moment we get a literal “Ghost in the Machine” moment that made me roll my eyes. Thankfully the movie works with that moment and moves on, I just wish it had been handled a little better.
Overall this is a great movie, other than that little moment and I recommend it for anyone who is interested in coding, computers and who wants to see a good A.I. movie.
Score: 4 stars. If they had handled that “Ghost in the Machine” moment better, I would have pumped it up another half star at least.
Nightmare Code is available on VOD on September 29, 2015, and available on DVD on October 27, 2015.
Actors: Andrew J. West, Mei Melançon, Googy Gress, Ivan Shaw, Bret Roberts
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
Region: All Regions
Studio: Indie Rights
DVD Release Date: October 27, 2015
Run Time: 89 minutes