So I’m scrolling through Netflix not wanting to watch anything too serious, and suddenly I find this, a Dutch horror film based around the idea of a cell phone app that takes over a woman’s life. Based on my love of movies that cast the Internet as a huge horror-movie evil, I start it right away! And I’ll tell you right now, it is absolutely awful, really one of the worst things I’ve watched in some time, and the only reason you’re reading about it right now is that it moves pretty quickly [and is only a merciful 79 minutes, though too long at that] and: it is the absolute stupidest thing I have seen in years. So obviously, that must be recorded.
Before the credits, we get some instructions for downloading the app. Then we have a woman listening to phone messages such as “It’s terrible what happened” and “I don’t know how anyone found out,” and then she goes and jumps in front of a train. But she was just our required opening victim. Then we have a credits sequence that could be worse, and is slightly hypnotic, as the credits come at you through an electronic tunnel. Oooh.
We now meet our main character, Anna, who looks quite like Emily Watson, and her best friend and roommate, Sophie. They are in college. We have several professors giving various lectures here, but their contents don’t comment on the film, as they do in most movies—or at least the connections and film is so dumb it doesn’t matter. Both women, but especially Anna, are constantly on their phones. Anna has a brother who was in a motorcycle accident and is just on the cusp of learning to walk again, and the doctor is going to put in an experimental spinal implant—he will be the first to get it—that will… help him to walk? He is pretty much walking already, but we’re supposed to believe this will somehow help some more.
Anna and Sophie go to a party at an upstairs apartment, held by Tim, high school boyfriend of Anna’s. He’s working on various apps while he’s in school. There is drinking and drugs, and when Anna wakes in the morning, there’s a message “New Download” on her phone. She agrees, and Iris, her personal digital assistant, opens. It answers a few questions for her, and that’s it. She goes to school.
Now, you may have noticed that “Iris” is “Siri” BACKWARDS! And I know that you—as I was—are gearing up for some serious, and quite pointed, criticism of our phone-connected culture and giving up our consciousnesses to digital assistant apps. Are you? Well, I hope not, because what follows is so outright dumb that the best explanation is that Apple itself financed this movie in order to pre-emptively short-circuit any criticism of Siri before it started.
The phone rings in philosophy class, and rings again after Anna has turned it off. It’s Iris, who won’t leave her alone! The prof takes it from her, and when she visits his office later to retrieve it, we see that somehow, through simply sitting next to it, Iris is able to affect his phone. After her prof gives her a hard time, Iris shows Anna a picture of a gun. When it wakes her the next morning, Anna tries to delete Iris. But guess what? She CAN’T!
SPOILERS > > >
Anna, being one of those vacuums of humanity who needs to walk around a party looking for her friend while videotaping it all, has a video of herself walking in on Sophie screwing a guy. She deletes it. But guess what? Iris sent it to everyone! Why? Well, I guess Iris just likes mischief. The phone comes on as Anna takes a shower, and when she takes it in to the Best Buy-like electronics shop, it again affects the computers through proximity [is it bluetooth?] and broadcasts the image of Anna, naked, walking to the shower over all the televisions in the store! That darn Iris is just fucking with her!
Back in philosophy class, Iris takes over the auditorium’s screen and shows the professor and a student, who had previously identified as gay, as about to engage in sex for grades. Now, what does Iris have against the professor? Their sexual interlude also appears on all phones in the room. I think you can see that the pretense of this having any relation to reality is completely out the window. Then Anna’s brother gets his implant, and we see the doctor set his iPad down next to Anna’s phone, and the signature distortion that tells us that Iris is spreading into the iPad. Later, the philosophy professor appears in a common area at the university and encourages everyone to get out their phones and film. He then waves a gun around, and finally shoots himself as numerous students film with their phones. I’m sure that little nugget of social criticism has changed your life, just as it did mine.
Anna goes to a shop and get a brand new phone, but switches the SIM card. As she leaves, the proprietor wipes her phone of all apps… but Iris won’t be erased! He tries to reinstall factory settings… and the whole store explodes! How? Why? Ask not, little cupcake! She goes back to Tim [high school boyfriend, working on apps] and Iris snarls at him! Then Anna tries to cut her SIM card, but as she does, Iris shows her brother having a seizure! So she has to rush to the hospital to see her brother [unconscious], and by the tine she’s there, Sophie’s online profile lists her as dead!
It might seem like all of this would be okay, or at least leavened, if there were any connecting story between, but no, these things really are just all happening one after another.
Well, you see, Sophie has just gone in for her scuba lesson. She apparently takes private scuba lessons, as there are no other students. He teacher’s cell is acting up—since Iris affects all technology in town, somehow—and he goes outside, at which point Iris locks him out. Sophie gets in the pool, when Iris turns on ye olde poolside radio, playing euro dance music, each beat of which brings the radio closer to the pool [I actually liked that touch]. You guessed it, Sophie buys it seconds after Anna arrives, so she can watch her best friend fry. And the swim instructor jumps right in the pool, moments after she’s been electrocuted? Is that recommended? Anna tearfully asks Iris why, and Iris replies: “Shut your face!” Which is, pretty much, the only explanation we’re going to get out of this film.
Anna gets a ride home from Sophie’s boyfriend, and as soon as she steps out of the car, Iris changes the street lights and he is hit and killed by a truck! My God, does Iris’ evil know no bounds? Anna watches a video of the party from the beginning and sees that Tim has Iris on his phone! So she goes upstairs and beats the living shit out of him before even asking a single question! Well, I guess we’re supposed to understand her as a cell-totin’ idiot. Anyway, Iris is an app he made to spy on his girlfriend Liesbeth, who ended up killing herself. Maybe that was the woman at the beginning? And Anna has periodically been receiving messages from Liesbeth. But you know, at one point Anna said her messages were from the future, and at certain points people making 911 calls were routed to Anna’s phone, so this movie is just throwing everything at us to see what sticks. Anyway, Anna throws boiling water on him [rather egregious at this point, no?] and bolts.
She goes to the hospital, clobbers the nurse who says she can’t see her brother, and adds an additional punch to the face when the nurse comes around. I do like how Anna is just an out-of-control case of rage ready to punch the fuck out of anyone who stands in her path, at this point. She starts disconnecting her brother from the life-support equipment [a good idea? You decide], then clobbers the doctor when he enters the room. We’ll skip over the whole Iris-takes-over-the-elevator thing, too tedious, but they all end up on the roof, where Anna threatens to toss her cell off the roof, when Ted [who has shown up] explains that… her brother’s implant won’t work without Iris! He and the doctor have been in on it together, developing a new medical app, that is supposed to eliminate risk, but… I guess there were some bugs! That’s about all the explanation you’re going to get, folks, so be happy. There were some bugs. Pretty much answers any questions you might have, right? The logic is solid. Bugs. See? There were bugs.
Then Anna gives Ted the phone, and who should call, but someone named deux ex machina, or, Liesbeth, who blows up the phone next to Ted’s ear, killing him! Then we see Iris sputter and die on his phone. But, I thought Anna’s brother would die without Iris? Pish-posh! He’s fine in an epilogue in which he and Anna are getting on a plane and heading out on vacation. Some amusement can be had by looking at the grumpy old man who is disgusted at the thought of having these chattering bimbo kids next to him for an entire international flight—WHY put that guy in there, right at the last minute? But I’m glad they did. Anyway, a quick glimpse of the cockpit shows us that—Iris is in the plane’s computer! The end.
< < < SPOILERS END
So there you go. It’s been a long while since I watched something so absolutely stupid. I was very much up for some criticism of people addicted to their phones and willing to download any app, just to have more excuses to use their phones. Even bad, unfair criticism—I was up for it! I have low standards for social criticism, but this came in way lower than anyone could ever imagine.
It would be one thing of there were any consistency to Iris’ behavior, but she’s just willy-nilly EVIL in every direction, just for the sake of being evil! She’s not only targeting Anna’s friends, but Anna herself, then her professor, then the store clerk, and finally, anyone who happens by. There is also no logic to how Iris works… she can apparently control any electronic device, whether internet-enabled or not, from iPads to computers to boom boxes and traffic lights and elevators. Not to mention that after a while, the movie becomes little but a long series of Iris doing evil thing after evil thing, with little connective tissue in between.
So, is it worth watching? I really can’t say so. It’s bad in a certain way, which is just that it is SO IDIOTIC, but not in the way that there is laughable dialogue or crazy sights. There’s no laugh-out-loud moments or anything so ridiculous that you chuckle, it’s just that it relentlessly keeps getting stupider and stupider—and moves at such a fast pace—that, for whatever reason, I watched it right through to the end. I’m just saying… I can’t really recommend anyone else doing this. I think my theory that this was financed by Apple to short-circuit criticism of Siri is the best explanation for any of this.
Not really, unless you’re some kind of masochist.