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While the prospect of building the perfect human has long been fodder for sci-fiction entertainment, as technologies advance, the actuality of cyber-enhanced re-birth, as it were, into a whole new body seems close at hand. Of course the legalities and ethics of it all still remain sketchy. With Simple Creature, the line is a thin one where love and science and religion and morality blur in a film with great ambition that despite its flaws makes for a compelling watch.
Em (Carollani Sandberg) is a typical college student who at a countryside party meets a young man named Seth (D’Angelo Midili), who is a struggling farm boy with no use for modern technology. They share commonalities and become close, though both have family pressures and don’t agree on some important issues. One day, while she is traveling by bus to visit her father – a scientist at an advanced tech lab called Singularity – she gets in an accident and is nearly killed. Seth is told she did however, while her father and his team over the next few years rebuild her from the inside out, her memories erased. But when those same memories begin to slowly re-emerge, she escapes to seek Seth out, but the company has other plans.
Written and directed by Andrew Finnigan, Singularity is a talky film, not a high-tech special effects film that the premise seems to suggest, or at least that the genre predisposes. It is a morality film before it is a thriller and it spends much of its time building that foundation, creating a slow burning story of a girl trapped inside a machine per se, even though she looks exactly as she always has. Purposefully avoiding the clichés of the genre, there are no big set-pieces or action moments, but rather stillness and contemplation, sometimes without dialogue for long stretches as Finnigan engages with a more subdued tone.
Not content to have the story center entirely on Em, the film shifts between her and the recovering Seth, who has all new problems as his father passes and his incapacitated mother leave him with a farm in foreclosure. He gets involved with his uncle Phillip (Russell Hodgkinson), another local farmer and would-be cult leader of a group who blames Singularity for their problems. Narratively, and with the already slow pace, these shifts make for some disconcerting transitions as the story tries to tie it all together. The glacially slow momentum though, which isn’t entirely a bad thing, keeps it feeling less like a story about a girl on the run searching for her old identity than an attempt at some social commentary, batting about God and technology like sides of a debate. It does get dark though.
Simple Creature is a curious experiment to be sure, well directed and written though isn’t going to be for everyone. There are several good moments that keep this quite compelling even as it dips too often into some lags that try to prop up an unnecessary subplot. Sandberg is well cast and carries the film though there are no weak performances. Films like Simple Creature are important in pushing expectations, even when they don’t always succeed.
Movie description: Simple Creature is a 2017 sci-fi thriller is a modern college student who gets into a near-fatal bus accident, but is reborn through hybrid technology by her biotech father and his advanced lab.
Director(s): Andrew Finnigan
Actor(s): Russell Hodgkinson, Alycia Delmore, D'Angelo Midili