Conrad, an escaped convict, becomes the central figure in a brutal underground game. He must learn the rules of the game and help others stay alive, or else he will be killed by the game's deadly robots.
Directed by: Esben Storm
. Starring: Alex Dimitriades
, Tasma Walton
, Alison Whyte
, Kate Sherman
, Jason Stojanovski
, Chris Haywood
, John Clayton
, Anne Tenney
, Scott Swalwell
, Michael Saunders
, Veronica Segura
, Troy Planet
, Shane Briant
. Music by: Curt Cress
, Chris Weller
since all of the originality this script needed really IS "buried!" At least it is another opportunity to see the chiseled talent of Alex Dimitriades at work, though a bit of a letdown after his career-making performance in the searing indie HEAD ON.
Set in a future where VR video games aren't just a way of life, but have infused nearly every aspect of pop culture, (in other words, not all that different from today), Dimitriades plays one of the underground rebels of a faction known as the "Orphans Of The Revolution." It all gets kind of "JUDGE DREDD-meets-THE-MATRIX" from here, so I'll just skim over what passes for the "finer points." Having escaped an execution date with the help of an old flame (Tasma Walton), both renegades find themselves in the wrong place at a VERY wrong time, trapped in the parking deck of a high-rise with several other unlucky people.
Because living in this high-rise is the part-time sociopathfull-time "daddy's boy" who has just perfected a VR game called...you guessed it, SUBTERANO. Sonny has one of those dysfunctional relationships with his dad, and therefore has channeled all his hate, frustration and aggression into a game that has now transcended its VR origins and become part of the real world...and the captives in the parking deck must now play for their lives, or suffer the deadly consequences.
It certainly sounds more interesting than it is, and it isn't hard to believe that it actually sat on a shelf two years after its completion. I always wondered how movies would begin to reflect the tech advances in special effects achieved with THE MATRIX, and in its own just-okay CGI work, SUBTERANO reflects the very beginnings of the beneficial influences reaped by low-budget projects from the much superior forerunner.
Unlike CUBE, to which SUBTERANO bears more than just a passing resemblance, the characterizations are not as fully realized, so to the actors' credit they do at least manage to keep us interested before the "game" dispatches most of them. The dialogue at best never rises above soap-opera level, which makes one wonder how much time was spent on the script development as opposed to the special FX (which obviously gobbled up most of the film's meager budget.) Once you get past the somewhat tedious set-up in the first third of the movie, SUBTERANO does get curiously watchable afterward. A few trims here and there would probably make it more palatable for kids with a PG-13 sensibility. As it is, it's a fairly harmless piece of late-night fodder when nothing else is on.
(Note to Alex and Tasma: fire your agents and get new ones.).
Review by Christopher T. Chase from the Internet Movie Database.