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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review: A.M.I.

Director: Rusty Nixon
Screenplay: James Clayton, Rusty Nixon, and Evan Taylor
Year: 2019

Synopsis: While Cassie is still grieving the death of her mother, she finds a mobile device with the most recent version of the personal assistant A.M.I. This technology allows imitating the voice of Cassie's mother, which becomes the conduit to be manipulated by the device. A.M.I. takes advantage of Cassie's vulnerability to lead her to commit atrocious crimes, revealing her sinister intentions.

Advances in artificial intelligence seem to be the next great step for humanity. For some time, we have been watching in movies the possibilities that this technology offers and we are closer to make what seems like fantasy in a movie, become a reality. This is as fascinating as it is frightening as it also holds the possibility for something to go wrong. Since the times of “Terminator” to as recent as the new version of “Child’s Play” this idea has been explored through films and we know how these stories end.

“A.M.I.”, the fourth films of director Rusty Nixon (“Residue”), gets into the world of artificial intelligence using cell phones. Cassie finds a phone with the most recent version of the personal assistant known as A.M.I. While she plays with the preferences of the software, she finds a voice that is pretty similar to that of her late mother and creates a co-dependent relationship with this technology. 

Early in the movie, we see that Cassie, interpreted by Debs Howard (“The Intruder”) has a tendency towards being a psychopath and that he takes some medications to be able to control her impulses. These psychopathic impulses are what A.M.I. uses to turn Cassie into a bloodthirsty killer looking to punish those who harm Cassie, as it has decided to take the motherly role. Here A.M.I. has plenty of material to work with, as Cassie has done a wonderful job of surrounding herself with the worst people possible: a boyfriend that does not respect her and whose goal is to have sex with as many women as possible, a friend that has sex with all of Cassie’s partners, and a father that has decided to go over his grieving by having sex with as many women as possible, including Cassie’s friend. Yes, everybody is trying to nail everybody here. 

A.M.I. is a technology that would put Siri, Alexa, and Cortana on their knees, and because this is a horror movie, we know that things would go awry with it. The reason why A.M.I. is evil is never addressed in the movie, but it seems to be equipped with the latest serial killer starter pack, as it quickly convinces Cassie of committing two consecutive murders coached by it. Here an interesting concept develops as it takes the general formula for slasher movies and reverses it. Since the beginning, we know who the murderer and its motivation is, and it also completely reverses the final girl concept. 

Seen from a more academic and philosophical point of view, “A.M.I.” is a social criticism of modern society’s addiction to technology. Most of us spend countless minutes a day looking at a screen of a mobile device and being influenced by the information it generates. How we put this technology over real social interactions is exemplified in the wave of murders Cassie commits, although with this group of friends I think I would have chosen to listen to the phone, and it is more clearly shown in the ending scene of the movie.

The murder scenes are well-crafted and are much more graphic than what I expected, even when much of it takes place outside of the screen, as it usually happens with this movies because of budget or classification issues. Only in a few instances, it surpasses what you would expect from a PG-13 movie, but when it does, it delivers. The acting, although not great, help bring out the horrible qualities of the victims, as well as convince the viewer of the danger they are in.

“A.M.I.” brings a few interesting ideas, like that of reverting the slasher movie formula, which is an interesting concept worthy of being further explored. It has creative visuals and deaths, somewhat contrasted with inconsistencies in the script, the clearer of them being essential to the development of the plot. If you ignore this “A.M.I.” is a good movie with great rhythm and a fun story and being a bit more philosophical, it can give plenty to think about.

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