The first complete work by director Mark Netter and co-writer and co-executive producer M J Rotondi is a "Drop the Keyboard, I'm out" success. Normally one would expect a smaller budget film to skimp on detail, and substitute blood spatter for material, however this absolutely was not the case with Nightmare_Code. The stunning attention to even the smallest detail made this film as good as anything you'd see out of big Hollywood, and the best part (wait for it!): It's a terrific, multifaceted story! Let me begin by writing I would not classify this as horror. It is much more of a thriller suspense movie. It has a few horror elements to it, but it certainly is not blood and gore by any stretch of the imagination or anything akin to a "slasher" type movie. If you love thrillers and suspense this movie is for you. If you are looking for Jason XXXIV: Jason kills the Matrix you're probably off base.
A prima facie look at the movie will tell you that it centers around ROPER, a computer AI that runs amok. What is one of the many wonders of this movie is that the story really is the human one, and not the story of ROPER. ROPER more acts as a gravitational point which the other characters revolve around.
For much of the movie, we are viewing the world through the eyes of the artificial intelligence, ROPER, and the screen is split into 4 distinct quadrants, like looking at surveillance cam footage. The sound team deftly moves the sound appropriately to each area of the screen by moving the sound through the 5.1 or Stereo fields so you aren't left fighting to figure out which "screen" to watch. Just relax and let the sound guide you and you'll follow along just fine.
Foster Cotton, played by Steve Wozniak type Googy Gress, and his team are working on an artificial intelligence surveillance system that reads emotions and state of mind by tracking facial movements, body positions etc and then tries (with gaining accuracy) to predict the target subject's next behavior. Unfortunately, Googy for reasons later revealed comes unhinged and massacres his fellow co-workers. The sequencefootage of the killings, when revealed, is downright disturbing due to the artful way the entire movie is put together. You feel like you are witnessing a workplace shooting first hand and there is nothing you can do but watch.
When the carnage is over, it is left to the reboot team to finish the project. Enter Brett Desmond played by Andrew J West of Walking Dead infamy, and Nora Hunstman played by Mei Melançon and the rest of the crew. The underpants gnomes are off to work! (South Park reference). Working tirelessly, with Desmond both working and sleeping on site, the group tries to close out bugs and finish the project but for some reason, they can't seem to just get it over the hump and ready to ship.
Working in the technology world myself, I was stunned how close to reality this was in many ways. Of course film makers take liberties, however the idea of working all the time, facing drop dead dates, and doing the impossible as an everyday course of life nearly sent me into post traumatic stress from my days sitting and working with a team much like the group Netter and Rotondi have put together.
The little details, like the Unix shells on the screens, the obsolete books on the table, and the constant jumpiness of the characters themselves can be found in any tech company still today.
Stress points and boil overs, with a constantly menacing AI stirring the pot lead the characters down some pretty dark holes. When the characters do make mistakes, even ones they shouldn't, you feel sorry for them. You "understand" why they do the things they do, even if you know they are wrong. This is the very human piece of the story. You are meant to have little sympathy when the AI goes wrong. Humanity, is a purely human trait, and left for humans.
I will close out by writing: Nightmare_Code is a must see if you enjoyed movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey. ROPER is not as overwhelming as HAL but quite frankly, that makes it more nefarious. The question was posed to me, is the writer in the code or is the code in the writer, and I think this movie sort of answers that question in it's own interpretation. I personally thought this was a great movie and have already seen it twice.
Review by rootuser-40030 from the Internet Movie Database.