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The latest Blumhouse production is a lean, playfully trashy sci-fi riff on its usual B-movies and its best and bloodiest in some time. In a dystopian future that specifically evokes 80s horrors such as Videodrome, RoboCop and The Terminator, technophobe Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) is a record-collecting, muscle-car mechanic out for vengeance after his wife, Asha, (Melanie Vallejo) is killed by her car in an accident that also leaves him a quadriplegic.
Former client and baby-faced evil genius Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson) suggests that for the small price of a non-disclosure agreement, Grey trial his latest invention, Stem, a cockroach-shaped implant and feat of bio-mechanical fusion that would allow him to move his limbs once more.
The catch is that once inside Grey’s brain, Stem begins talking to him, making useful suggestions and strategies for tracking down Asha’s killers and, with permission, taking over his body in combat, his arms and legs cracking, snapping and slapping mechanically, made even more visceral by lurching, metallic sound effects.
There’s a goofiness to the proceedings that allows the film to become a kind of buddy movie (“Stem, he has a knife!” yelps Grey, only for Stem to riposte calmly: “We have a knife, too!”) and the moments of genuinely squirm-inducing body horror make a change from the anaemia that can sabotage movies determined to capture a younger audience.
I had written Marshall-Green off as a budget Tom Hardy (it’s true that the two look uncannily similar), but his performance here is agile and interesting; he plays into, not against, the ridiculousness of the material. It’s still a small, silly movie and there’s nothing particularly novel or even of the moment about its technosceptic stance on machines, but as a genre exercise, it’s a fun ride.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Upgrade review – the cockroach made me do it | Horror films