By: John Allen
Do you remember Tay? Back in 2016 Tay was introduced to the world. She was a sweet teenage girl…..sort of. Tay was actually an A.I. (artificial intelligence) modeled to emulate an adolescent girl. You could tweet Tay and ask her anything at all. She was programmed to learn and to gather information. What could possibly go wrong? Just 16 hours after her launch, internet trolls successfully poisoned Tay. By the end of the experiment, she was racist, anti-feminist, and tweeted the most vile rhetoric that humankind had to offer her.
Written, Directed, and Produced by Aaron Mirtes, much like Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, The Alpha Test begs the question, who, exactly is the monster, the creature, or the man who created it? Daily, we see news items regarding the latest technological advancement, both small and large, robots are swiftly gaining traction in our everyday lives. From Smart phones to fully realized A.I’s our lives are being forever changed, but did anyone ask the question, just because we can make these advancements, does it mean we should? What are the ramifications of a world enhanced by such creations? Sci-fi, and Horror, have asked these questions for years. Westworld, Terminator, 2001 A Space Odyssey, are just a few examples in Science Fiction where robots have run amok upon the human race even though we are their creators. The story Mirtes has conceived stands next to these classics. The Alpha Test is modern and futuristic at the same time. It is an engaging piece of work that starts as a slow burn then ramps up to a taut cautionary tale with themes of bullying and the dangerous consequences those actions bring. There are shades of the class system at play, and the treatment of those whom society might deem as worthless or less significant. Then there is the fear we have of technology. will it replace our jobs, or even worse, us? Whatever the benefits or lack there of A.I. brings to humanity, the clear answer to all these questions is we need to proceed with caution.
At its center is a magnificent performance by Rae Hunt as Alpha, every nuance and characterization is flawless. She evokes both pathos and fear, innocence and malice, with deft and expertise. There was clearly thought put into the part of Alpha on her part. Speaking of bringing a character to life, I must duly compliment the make up work, it is seamless and perfect. There is a surreal beauty to it that feels both mechanical and organic.
The Alpha Test is not perfect. It does suffer from a low budget, and truthfully a couple of cheesy moments, Rob, the Father, played by Wynn Reichert, in particular feels like a cartoonish stereotypical dick head that never really feels authentic, acting more like an immature frat boy than a Dad. I don’t blame Reichert for this, his portrayal is accurate given the material he was written. This is not a jab at his acting skills by any means as he is truthfully quite good, but rather a misstep in the source material. Flaws aside though, Aaron Mitres has written and directed a sublime little film that I would love to see tweaked, rewritten, and perfected for a big studio treatment. As it stands I think most people would enjoy this twisted little yarn for its story and sublime performance of Rae Hunt. Take a little time to enjoy The Alpha Test, but be warned you might never look at your google nest the same way again.
3.5 Alphas out of 5