INCONTROL [FrightFest]

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

Every generation of filmmaking will yield an opportunity to see where the fusion of technology and fantasy will take them. In the 1980s it was the likes of Brainstorm and Dreamscape, in the 1990s it was The Lawnmower Man and The Matrix.

Getting its European Premiere in one of the Discovery screens during Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, Kurtis David Harder’s Incontrol updates the concepts of the earlier examples for the social network generation and provides another intriguing and thought-provoking idea and concept for the intellectual mindset to mull over amongst others. It is similar in tone to the recent Friend Request.

University student and barista Samantha (Anja Savcic) is invited by fellow student Mark (Levi Meaden) to try out a new piece of technology that allows the users to get involved in the lives of others without causing any discrepancy in their daily routines. The first taste of what can occur happens when Samantha experiences a student party, but upon re-emerging from there, Samantha gets an outline of the various rules that will enable her to utilise the device without going insane in the process….

Incontrol is a slickly made piece of virtual reality drama, with a hint of Flatliners thrown in (incidentally, the new Ellen Page update version of the 1990 cult hit is trailering on YouTube now). It has a competent cast and a well-written screenplay to boot and like all smarter-than-average dramas like this, you are drawn into the concept of whether something is real or not in a cinematic context.

The film benefits from a compact production style. Naturally, in hindsight, you could go the route of a big-budget Hollywood film, but the intimacy of the piece is just as beneficial without a subplot involving a Government agency wanting to use the device for bigger needs - like Brainstorm explored in Trumbull’s cult 1983 film. The cast is excellent, led by Savcic as the individual whose own curiosity about what she is experiencing adds to the overall paranoia the technology is infusing in her and others.

Some may think it doesn’t have anything to add to the discussion, given that other films have explored the idea and world of virtual reality, but on balance, Incontrol does work as well as, if not better than, some of the other films. Harder does have a savvy eye for the material and does take some time to explore what his subject matter is about.

That said, this film does suffer a little bit from where the line between truth and fantasy lies, but that is partly a challenge for an audience to debate where and with whom the experience is happening. It’s an age-old idea and it never hindered the critical and commercial prospects of another example, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, which played on the audience right through to the last frame.

INCONTROL / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: KURTIS DAVID HARDER / STARRING: BRITTANY ALLEN, CHRIS BALL, CAROLINE BUZANKO / RELEASE DATE: TBC


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