INCONTROL – a film by Kurtis David Harder – SPOILERS
Marissa (Sarah Troyer) wrecks her car, and it is possible that the rest of the film is an elaborate explanation of why that happens. For a while, the story seems like a simple love triangle with technological complications. Samantha (Anja Savčić) is a college student who also works as a waitress. She solicits the help of one of the café’s customers (the handsome Mark, played by Levi Meaden) with an essay she’s writing for one of her courses. From what she tells Mark, and from what her professor lectures about, the essay is about applying the concept of the panopticon to the problem of disappearing privacy in the modern world. The essay is curiously relevant to events that later transpire.
Samantha seems to have a crush on Mark (who is involved with Marissa, and shows no romantic interest in Sam). Mark introduces Sam to two of his friends and a device they say they stole from the university. The device allows the user to enter the mind of another person – to perceive what they perceive and to control what they do. The host is entirely unaware of the user’s invasive presence. Mark, Victor, and Jenny seem to treat this activity like a sport, and Sam quickly becomes addicted to it.
Sam becomes obsessed with inhabiting Marissa, and in the beginning it seems like she does that because she’s in love with Mark, but cheerleader Marissa has the life that Sam wants, and Mark is only a small part of that.
Victor (Rory J. Saper), the guy who is supposed to have swiped the device from the university, is visiting inside the head of some frat guy when his host is killed. Having been inside someone at the moment of death gives Victor a new and very suspicious outlook on life. He decides to try and get away from everyone in the group, because he believes he is being controlled by someone else. (There is a distance limitation on the mind control device, so he plans to take a boat sufficiently offshore to be out of range.) Since no one is conscious of being controlled by another unless the controller wants them to be, any of the characters in the film might be being controlled at any time by anyone whose location they are not immediately aware of. (It is reasonable to assume there is more than one device.)
It is not clear how Mark finds out where Victor went. (Sam saw Victor talking with a strange person on the street, so she might be responsible for that.) Mark locates and kills Victor, and in the process reveals that he may be more than he originally seemed to be. He may, in fact, be occupied by someone else entirely. At that moment in the film, it seems that Mark’s controller, if he has one, might be the innocent-seeming Sam.
Jenny (Shayla Stonechild) is the biggest mystery. It is her apartment that the group uses as a base of operations, but her interaction with the others is minimal, and, frustratingly, we learn little about her.
Can two or more people enter the mind of one host simultaneously? Would they need to co-operate to do that? (This is never discussed in the film.) The group makes an arbitrary rule against taking control of anyone with whom one has a personal involvement, but there is no way of enforcing that. Does Sam violate that rule? Does she, perhaps, pop into the mind of her agoraphobic mother (Valerie Planche) to try some internal therapy? She can’t access her mother’s memories, but she might make changes in some of her mom’s behavioural patterns if she worked at it.
The ending won’t be described here, except to say that it reveals other things about the limitations and effects of the device. The film may be about Sam, but it begins and ends with Marissa.
This story would be fairly easy to develop into a TV series about a cop investigating incidents he believes are caused by the device, the existence of which he cannot prove.
Brittany Allen (Naomi) stars as Jules in WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE, the story of Jules and Jackie (Hannah Emily Anderson) who, on the eve of their one year wedding anniversary, find themselves pitted against each other in a merciless fight for their lives, after Jackie’s childhood friend (Martha MacIsaac) drops by to visit. Violence rains down upon their idyllic forest getaway, as the women engage in a vicious battle that will test the limits of their instinct to survive. The film premiered at SXSW earlier this month, and a trailer is available on YouTube.
Barb Mitchell (Marissa’s mom) will be an ER doctor in HOLD THE DARK, which follows wildlife naturalist (Jeffrey Wright) as he is summoned to a remote Alaskan village to investigate the deaths of three children who are believed to have been eaten by wolves. He becomes involved in a dangerous triangle with a grieving mother (Riley Keough) and her unstable husband (who has recently returned from Iraq). The film is based on William Giraldi’s 2014 novel, and was filmed in the Calgary area. HOLD THE DARK will be on Netflix on 1 June.
Levi Meaden (Mark) is Ilya in PACIFIC RIM UPRISING (the sequel to PACIFIC RIM). Jake Pentecost (John Boyega) has abandoned his training and become caught up in the criminal underworld. He is given one final chance by his estranged sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), to live up to his father’s legacy. A trailer is available on YouTube. The film will be in US and Canadian theatres on 23 March.