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Paranoia 1.0

Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 02/06/04 05:33:39

"Get To The Point, Yo!"
3 stars (Average)

One Point O ends with a great beginning for a sci-fi thriller. Iím sure thatís where filmmakers Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson started in their heads and then constructed a mysterious nightmare around its chief character putting together the pieces to discover it for himself. Their film is very much like Soylent Green in that way as our protagonist wades through a creepy and dank futuristic setting before being hit over the head with a staggering realization. But like the Charlton Heston cult classic, thereís a lot of atmosphere to engulf an audience but it becomes tiresome, only to get really interesting again in the final scenes.

Computer programmer Simon J. (Jeremy Sisto) is behind in his work, repeatedly being asked for his code through video monitors in his downtrodden apartment. Heís isolated himself enough to regularly order-in from his delivery service friend (Eugene Byrd) which always includes an order of milk (perhaps for a ulcer heís developed.)

One morning a wrapped brown package appears inside his apartment. When he opens it, he finds nothing inside. And it wonít be the last one he discovers. Whatís the meaning of the packages? More importantly, who is putting them there and how are they getting into his apartment? Is this some bizarre practical joke by Barton Fink?

Maybe itís the bizarre neighbor (Bruce Payne) who likes to make S&M films. Or the other bizarre neighbor (Udo Kier) creating a robot babyface head? Is the beautiful Trish (Deborah Kara Unger) out to love him or destroy him? And what did happen to that man in the elevator whose pores seemed to be experiencing a compression problem? Maybe his friend, Howard (Lance Henriksen) has more knowledge than heís letting on.

One Point O does a wonderful job in establishing its minimalist palettes and an enveloping sense of a societal setting we wouldnít care to live amongst. Problem is, it just keeps establishing it. Scene after scene is filled with the surroundings dominating the characters who mostly walk around confused and whispering. The clues to the greater picture are carefully dropped and when everyone finally gets around to it, we go ďohhhhĒ just like the rest of them and begin applying it to our present world. But itís such an evocative concept that we wish we had just seen an entire movie exploring it instead of making everyone play catch up.

Renfroe and Thorssonís ideas canít even be discussed here without hinting at or spoiling the big revelation. I donít even believe its fair for the tagline and plot outline at IMDB to do so. One Point Oís exploration of manís association to the technological universe has its share of fascination. Our paranoia of computer viruses and how weíre inundated with corporate (and private) spam and pop-up ads haunt us even further after the filmís finale. Itís just disappointing that the narrative couldnít have incorporated it into the first act where the heroís suspicion could have turned both satirical and terrifying in the Brazil-like way they were likely influenced by. As minimalist science-fiction goes, One Point O isnít bad, its just a little too minimalist.

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