Sunday, February 10, 2019

Candidate #13

(March 2018)

I would like to introduce you to my present and the rest of the world’s future.
“I call it ‘Stem.’”

It’s been just over 15 years (Seriously?! 15?!) since Leigh Whannell burst onto the horror scene alongside James Wan with Saw.
And while Wan has gone on to direct titles outside the horror genre like Furious 7 and Aquaman (both of which crossed the $ 1 billion(!) threshold at the box office), Whannell has largely stayed within its confines, also helping birth the Insidious franchise with long-time collaborator Wan.
He then tried out the director’s chair on Insidious: Chapter 3.
Thankfully, he seems to have enjoyed that experience, enough that he’s given us his sophomore feature, Upgrade.*

“I am Stem. The system operating your body for you.
“Don’t be afraid.”

Set in the near-future, where technology has become even more all-encompassing than it already is today, Grey Trace (an excellent Logan Marshall-Green) suddenly finds himself a quadriplegic after a vicious attack.
Bitter and despondent, he’s given a chance to walk again by wealthy tech mogul Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson, who was in Amazon’s recent TV adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock).
But what could have been a second chance at a normal life becomes a bloody vengeance spree with the help of Grey’s new best friend, Stem.

“You now have full control again, Grey.”

Upgrade’s trailer suggests a balls to the wall sci-fi actioner, and the film proves to be that, an occasionally wild and exhilarating ride as Whannell executes some visual acrobatics to convey to the audience Grey’s tech-enhanced mobility. (It should be noted that Upgrade went home with the Midnighters Audience Award from the 2018 South by Southwest Film Festival.)
But the film is also spiced up with some gory kills and a potent streak of techno horror, as we get exposed to the fears and anxieties of how technology can impact on our humanity, on both individual and societal levels.
And that streak is wide and prevalent enough to land Upgrade onto this year’s ¡Q horror! Candidates list.

“I’m sorry. We can’t let them win.”

* He’s also signed on to write and direct a new iteration of The Invisible Man, as well as tackle a remake of Escape from New York (for which he’s writing the script with the possibility of directing also open).

Parting Shot 1:
Reviews for Saw (and Saw IV) can be found here (and here); Insidious made the Candidates list in the ¡Q horror! 2011 rundown.
More Logan Marshall-Green can be found in ¡Q horror! 2011 Candidate Devil and ¡Q horror! 2016 title The Invitation.

Parting Shot 2:
Get Out's very own Georgina, Betty Gabriel, appears here as Detective Cortez.
She's also currently starring in Season 2 of the brilliant, sci fi-tinged espionage show, Counterpart.

(Upgrade OS courtesy of

No comments: