Mark Netter(screenplay), M.J. Rotondi...(co-writer)
Andrew J. West, Mei Melançon, Googy Gress
2014 (USA) See more »
According to the British Security Industry Association, there are between 4 and 6 million CCTV cameras in the UK alone. This makes us the most watched country on earth. Now just imagine if linked to each of those cameras was a computer programme that could predict what you would do next? It is the development of this software that Nightmare Code builds is premise around.
Nightmare Code is the first(completed) film by Mark Netter. Presented in a semi-found footage style it tells the story of a computer coder Bret Desmond, played by Andrew J. West(The Walking Dead, Under the Dome), who is hired to finish the work of a “genius like” programmer called Foster Cotton(Googy Gress), who went on a murder/suicide rampage throughout his office building. Taking place in the offices of the troubled Start Up company a week or so after the killing spree, coder Brett Desmond accepts the job after the firms management promise to make his ongoing legal issues disappear.
Cotton has developed ROPER, a programme that can analyse CCTV to analyse the footage, and if completed, could be used to predict human behaviour(and crimes before they happen). However, the programme wasn't finished before Cotton’s meltdown and Desmond is the one hired to try and make sense of the code left behind.
Throwing himself into his work, he leaves his wife and daughter to move into the office were he works but video calls back to his family and friends reveal the extent of the legal and financial problems that drove him to accept the job.
The pressure builds as he attempts to decipher the code left by Cotton, but finds the further he delves, the more the code (and his personality)changes, and the truth behind Cotton’s murderous rampage comes clear.
Director Netter adds his twist on the now tired found footage craze by using CCTV style camera shots, as well as webcam footage to show the evolution of the story. For the most part the screen is split into 4, with different security camera style footage providing different angles of the scene. I did find the layout a tad distracting, and don't see what this added to the movie. When were not looking at the quadrant of cameras, Netter uses a computer desktop to
simulate video calls(think Open Windows with Elijah Wood).
One of the techniques used that is effective is where we are seeing what ROPER is seeing and its facial and body mapping. The system displays the mood the character is feeling. The feature is especially welcome during the scenes depicting the rampage. It also highlights were the system needs work, as the correct mood is not always shown.
The story was solid, and the acting for the most part is good, but the characters are all criminally underdeveloped.
West does his best with what little he has to work with, and Mei Melançon(The L Word, X-men: Last Stand) manages to come across as grounded and the most believable of all the cast. The rest are simply stereotypical “computer geeks” with little or no thought put into them.
The acting of Googy Gress however, is some of the cheesiest acting you will see this year and his portrayal of Foster Cotten jarred against the other characters in the film…
The dialogue is a little clunky and robotic, but the fact the entire cast list are your stereotypical computer coders goes a long way to explain this.
The first two acts are built at a nice pace, but the but the transition into the third act is not given enough screen time or explanation and had me a little confused. This was the first true hint that there were supernatural forces involved, and to be honest i found it a little off putting as )in my opinion)they were just not needed.
All in all, the film did manage to hold my attention and was generally entertaining. I just would not class this as a horror film. It is in the vein of The Lawnmower man, and asks similar social questions about mankind’s grip on technology. The Director also throws in the ideas of consumerism against individual ideals, and for a first completed project, did a good job. It would be interesting to see what he could do with a bigger budget.