I am Mother [2019]

“Contrary to your understandable assumptions, my primary directive is to care for humanity.”


Thanks to everyone who came to the February WATCHERS club! We watched this gem of a film.

The film, directed by Grant Sputore, centres on the life of a young child, brought up in a special unit by a robot. There are no other humans and we’re told that humanity did not survive a cataclysmic event – the details of which are murky. We are shown the child’s test-tube birth, its development in toddler-hood and soon teen-dom as both the child and its carer goes about their lives and routines. The robot, which the kiddo calls ‘Mother’ appears to care for the kid deeply. Then enters Hilary Swank’s character, ‘woman’, and she disrupts their happy existence.

I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t say anything more beyond the above regarding the plot. This is an excellent film. It’s well shot, very well written and had me thinking for days after I had seen it.

There are no names given to the characters beyond their descriptive names: child/mother/woman. In a post-apocalyptic world, it seems apt to strip the characters of identity and instead replace them with human roles. I think if the robot had been referred to directly as MX-123 or something by the child it would have been way easier to distrust from the beginning.

Throughout, the film was very tense.. so tense you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. I felt distrust but did not really know who to aim that distrust towards. I knew one thing for certain, and that was that the child was a total innocent and I think having the shots showing her grow up in front of my eyes lended itself to this impression, added by the nostalgic “Baby Mine” playing as she grew (aka the song Dumbo’s mum sings to him)… but I couldn’t shake this feeling that someone was evil, that something wasn’t right. I wanted to believe the robot was evil, which is the norm right? So when the ‘woman’ came into the scene I was like ‘aha, the woman is the virtuous one; this confirms my bias’ and then later I was like ‘wait a minute, maybe the woman is the one I shouldn’t trust’… It was an emotional rollercoaster.

Later you are presented with a catch-22 – which I won’t spoil – which left me very conflicted. I couldn’t really say I would have done something different given the circumstances. But maybe if you see someone has destructive tendencies, is the most caring thing to give them a gun?

So all in all, brooding excellent atmosphere, simple and thought-provoking story. Cinematography of the film was really good including the expressive look and sound of the robot. I feel like the smooth, motherly voice given to the robot was juxtaposed with the harsh, cold, squared off look of the robot. I liked that everything about the film was designed to make you feel uncomfortable and it absolutely succeeded in that. There were some WTF twists I totally didn’t see coming and was totally floored by. Very enjoyable. Would 100% recommend watching this film.

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Live [2020, SciFi London 2020]

“I can’t live like this…”


This film, filmed in Frankfurt, Germany (and some other cool places) is set in a dystopian future. It was directed by Lisa Charlotte Friederich (who is such badass bitch, which I mean to the highest respect possible) and the story follows police woman Claire and her brother Aurel who are both trumpeters. In this new world order, humans are no longer allowed to meet in groups, touch one another, smoke (or anything else that’s fun) as it is prohibited. There are strict curfews in place and the consequences of going against these are dire.

At the offset of the film, we see both Claire and Aurel (who live in the city/country respectively) performing at virtual gigs using VR technology. Before long we are taken to the scene of a crime where around 20 people are dead. It is clear that they had organised some kind of gathering and are referred to as “terrorists” by ‘The Institute’ (a sort of police surveillance entity); although I didn’t quite understand how they came to die, only that this was clearly the aforementioned consequences of breaking the rules. (I might have missed that… Honestly… I was making a snack!) I do really like it when you don’t have all the answers handed to you though, so I personally really liked the omission.

Claire heads to the country and inspired by the actions of the ‘terrorists’, talks her brother and two friends into organising a live gig. Did they make it happen? Did they get away with it? Well, you’ll have to watch the film won’t you?!

The most striking thing about the film is the music. The film features an excellent soundtrack, produced by Rike Huy and Jooseten Ellee. It’s a mix of electronic synth, jazz and classical and is incredibly well done and beautiful. Both the story and the music fit like a glove together. At one point I remember thinking “how can they make a single repeated synth note make me feel so tense right now?!” Because they’re wizards, that’s how. It’s the only explanation.

The city sections of the film were very disparate cinematically from the later country scenes, and I really liked that. The city was dark and sultry, smokey, almost bleakly monochrome; I personally got some film noir vibes from it. Claire lived in a Brutalist cement building that gave the impression she was metaphorically living in a prison cell which seemed to reflect the consensus in the city. In the country where Aurel lived, everything was much more open including the people; the shots seemed wider, the buildings more airy, the greens greener.

I really enjoyed the strange dynamic between the two siblings. There was this strong competitive feeling from both of them (including relating to sexual conquest) which you can see from the beginning scene where both are performing and the camera slices from one performance to the other. It was actually really interesting seeing the Q&A afterwards with the director because she mentioned that she was very influenced by Cain and Abel and I definitely see that mirrored in the story. She also mentioned that she wanted to illustrate how talent is not always fairly distributed and that was explored in a musical way. Perhaps that inequality is part of the reason their relationship is so strained. The relationship between Claire and her mother is also cold and distant, and their interactions make Claire seem very vulnerable.

The subject area of the film itself is obviously really topical right now, with so much of the world in COVID-19 lockdown, though interestingly the director created the film in response to terrorist attacks in Europe.

All in all, I really enjoyed the film. The concept is original and brilliant, and had these 1984/totalitarianism vibes going on. The film made me feel this inner dread throughout like I was waiting for something bad to happen but the ending was quite unexpected. I didn’t think the film was super polished but I know the director made the film on a very strict budget so that’s totally understandable. Really good storyline, amazing soundtrack, an excellent first SciFi London 2020 film of the year. Definitely well worth a watch.

The film is available here if you want to watch it, but you’ll need to buy a film or festival pass.

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Into the Forest [2015]

“We have each other”


‘Into the Forest’ is a Canadian film, somewhere between science fiction and horror-drama. It stars Elliot Page, Evan Rachel Wood and Callum Keith Rennie who are a family who find themselves in the middle of a continent-wide power outage which turns society on its head. There’s only really one sci fi element to the film in that it’s kind of a dystopian future type dealio, but the scenario is something that could very well happen and explores everything that can go wrong.

Society starts to lose its damn mind, like it is wont to do in the midst of a crisis, and the family are forced to retreat to their cabin in the woods hoping to wait the outage out. However, the situation turns from bad to worse to even worse(r?) and it’s almost like this little family are super cursed.

Page and Wood are very believable siblings; their love for each other is quite palpable on screen as they try to comfort one another while their world is falling apart through food scarcity and tragedy.

This is quite a heavy, dark film. There’s one particular moment where something happens and the camera focuses on Wood’s face. She acted it so well, and as a viewer watching her act it was like I was kicked in the chest. That scene is really powerful.

I thought generally it was a little slow, but I get the sense that this is necessary given the topic. The passage of time while you wait for normality to happen would probably feel like things are plodding on. I like that – SPOILERS – you never really know why it all happened in the first place, and you don’t really get a sense of closure with the film. You watch it just waiting for things to go back to normal but the family have to instead adapt to their ‘new normal’. It makes it seem more real somehow. Some similar films might end with “OH BTW IT WAS ALIENS” or “AND OMG IT TURNS OUT EVERYTHING WAS OKAY IN THE END” so this was a refreshing take at a different perspective.

So all in all, this film is really all about family, and how important your family are for your survival whatever shape that takes. The lush woodland was obviously totally stunning. I thought it was really well acted. The concept is a simple one but was explored thoroughly like the Director rinsed the shit out of it. I thought it was a decent film if maybe a bit slow, though I wasn’t ‘blown away’ by it. Worth a watch.

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Zombieland: Double Tap [2019]

“Welcome to Zombieland. Back for seconds? After all this time? Well, what can I say, but thank you. You have a lot of choices when it comes to zombie entertainment, and we appreciate you picking us.”


What? Third sci-fi film in one weekend? It must be christmas! Well, it’s not. It’s… well it’s October. But it’s a damn good weekend!

So this film is the second Zombieland instalment, the first having come out in 2009, and it was WORTH THE WAIT. For those who don’t know, this is a dystopian “post-apocalyptic zombie comedy film” following four equally unlikable yet endearing people who have lost everything after zombies happened, but they found each other. Awwwwww.

This sequel steps back into their lives now that everything is in their stride as far as survival goes but like a lot of us do when things are going too perfectly, self-sabotage begins to take hold and they each seek excitement, wanderlust or a sense of home. With predictable but hilarious consequences!

Though I didn’t think this was quite as excellent or amusing as the first Zombieland, you can’t really go wrong watching it. I found it entertaining, I loved the cameos from some special stars. Because it’s a comedy, it doesn’t allow you to get too dark like a lot of zombie films tend to do, i.e. where the storyline kills off a major character who you love. It never really challenges you, it’s never going to win any serious awards but it is a fun edition to the chain!

Really enjoyed it.

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