S0.CI3.TY (2016) – By Philip Smolen

 

A young man named J0.hn (Vincent Vermignon) wakes up on the beach of a deserted island. It is the year 3050 and all people have an artificial intelligence device known as a Reg implanted on their wrist. J0.hn’s Reg (voiced by Paul Pryce) tells him that he is off the normal grid and now has to fend for himself. The device then tells J0.hn that he will “regulate him” to help him deal with the stress of the situation. J0.hn begins to explore his new surroundings and his Reg constantly monitors and regulates the man’s emotional and sensory functions. One day, while fleeing from a fierce predator, J0.hn falls off a ledge and his Reg is ripped off his wrist by the underbrush. Without the device, J0.hn immediately goes into convulsions when he awakens. His body calms down several minutes later and he begins to truly experience all of his senses for the first time. J0.hn is initially overwhelmed by the power of these sensations, but he quickly adjusts to them and decides that life is better without his Reg. However, several days later, J0.hn comes upon the unconscious body of Lara (Caherine Denecy) on the beach. The young man examines the woman and sees that she still has her Reg attached to her wrist. J0.hn must now make a critical decision. Should J0.hn remove her Reg so she can experience what he has, or should he leave her A.I. device intact?

“S0.CI3.TY” (pronounced “Society”) is a 27 minute sci-fi short from writer/director Khris Burton and it’s a thought-provoking and absorbing cinematic experience. Burton does not explain his protagonist’s situation with verbose dialogue and exposition; he simply provides the viewer with only the basics. There’s no explanation of how J0.hn arrived at the island, he’s just there. And while I wondered exactly what type of world J0.hn was a part of, this lack information didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie.

J0.hn and Lara’s story of survival is very enjoyable and quite touching. They literally are a new Adam and Eve. They are the first humans to be able to truly use all of their senses and initially it is an overwhelming, powerful and terrifying experience. Without their Regs, they fully feel things for the first time. This aspect of the film gives their story a strong dramatic thrust because we want to know how they will adapt to this new found power.

The performances are superlative and Vincent Vermignon is sensational as J0.hn. He perfectly conveys the fear, terror and pleasure J0.hn is going through. Catherine Denecy is equally wonderful. She brings depth and conviction to Lara and her performance makes it easy to sympathize with her predicament.

“S0.CI3.TY” is both clever and intelligent and writer/director Khris Burton has made a film that gives the viewer something to think about while still providing solid entertainment. “S0.CI3.TY” is provocative, fascinating and riveting. It is also a first class sci-fi experience.

For more information on “S0.CI3.TY”, please visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5801264