Director Mark Netter must be a fan of the famous BBC series Black Mirror, a sci-fi anthology series that focuses on the dark side of technology and the effects it has on people and society as a whole. I say that because Netter’s film, Nightmare Code, plays out like a low budget, but well done episode from the show that fans of the series will enjoy, as well as freaking out those who work at places with surveillance cameras.
The plot centers on Brett Desmond (Andrew J. West of AMC’s The Walking Dead) an egotistical computer programmer with a dark past that’s brought in by a struggling software company to continue the work of a previous programmer who went insane and killed several of the workers there. Turns out the programmer was working on an advanced behavior recognition program that monitors the workers, points out their flaws, and plays them out to extreme effect. For example, if employee A was trapped with employee B and A had some type of emotional issues, the program will show how both of them could become hostile enough to kill each other. As Desmond sorts through the program’s complex coding, he discovers a virtual mastermind controlling it that intends to use the employees, and anyone it lays its cameras upon to plant distrust and fear that leads to a spree of terror.
I didn’t think Nightmare Code would turn out as well as it did, but it really does make you paranoid about video cameras and computers, especially since most people are surrounded by them and feel like they’re being watched by “big brother” on a daily basis. It’s rare that you see a film like this that tackles the subject in a creepy but intelligent way, and with a low budget at that. Speaking of which, the special effects serve their purpose well, keeping things simple but effective enough to scare or shock viewers in the right moments. While the actors do a good job playing their roles, it’s the spot-on editing of the film that brings the suspense as you watch. Most time the picture is separated into four screens that will show different things playing out at different times, giving the viewer a sense of uncertainty if what they’re seeing is actually happening or is it something the program is predicting will happen.
Nightmare Code turned out to be a pretty neat thriller that is sure to freak out viewers and make them skeptical about being around cameras or other people for that matter. Director Mark Netter does a great job of messing with your thoughts on technology and society, and will have most thinking about the film long after it’s over. If this sounds like a good time for you, then grab yourself a LAN connection and delve into the code, if you dare.