Automation follows Auto (played by Jeff J. Knight, In Defense Of ) a workplace robot employed by a company who wants to maximize their profits by minimizing the cost of human labor. Auto is a friendly, efficient robot who served as the pilot model for Susan (played by Sadie Katz, Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort), an heiress of a business after her father passed away. Susan employs Auto to show the current manager of her father’s business that this is the wave of the future and convinces him to fire 90% of the staff in favor of a new wave of robots. Simultaneously, Auto has cultivated a friendship with his human coworker Jenny (Elissa Dowling, Tales of Halloween). This very relationship stands in stark contrast with his programming, which suggests that he should have no emotions. When Auto overhears Susan’s plans to deactivate him, he turns from work friendly robot to killing machine.
Automation combines several themes in a unique way that helps the viewer invest in the characters and the story. For instance, as mentioned in the title, Automation tackles class warfare and artificial intelligence by using Auto as a very real consequence. In terms of class warfare, when Susan eliminates 90% of the workers in the business, dissent is quickly quieted as the employees are told if they complain their severances will be pulled. This mirrors real life, as many states in America, have laws either discouraging or outright banning unions, thus leaving many workers without necessary protections.
The second half of the film begins a critique of creating artificial intelligence. Specifically, Auto and his turn from a friendly helper, to a killer robot. Auto himself represents not only the move to more automated workplaces, but also the blurred line between artificial intelligence and sentience. Auto begins to make choices outside of expected outcomes, which drastically changes the tone of the movie and makes an argument as to why people should think twice before creating a being that could gain sentience.
The performances in the film are excellent. Jeff J. Knight, the man who plays Auto, sells this role to the point that I forgot her was a person in a costume. His movements and actions are so believable that sometimes I would look for blurry edges that would give the CGI away. Also, Jenny and Susan deliver authentic performances which give them dimension that changes how you perceive them throughout the film.
Overall, Automation is a knock-out of a flick (with a fantastic ending) and I highly recommend it if you are looking for something different, thrilling, and challenging in terms of content.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Garo Setian
Writer(s): Rofle Kanefsky, Matthew L. Schaffer, Garo Setian
Stars: Jeff J. Knight, Sadie Katz, Elissa Dowling
Release: Available for Pre-Order on Blu-Ray Now! Click here. (Ships out Dec. 3rd)
Studio/ Production Co: Capital Arts Entertainment, Hungry Monster Entertainment, Thriller Films
Length: 91 min