Hello all you good readers out there. I’m reporting from the Action On Film Festival in Las Vegas. There is no Fear and Loathing here, only a steady line up of Action shorts and features. This time it is the science fiction based short Kill Al, and it did not disappoint.
From the very first captivating frame, we are thrown into this future world and learn what it has become. The advent of androids and them being assimilated into society has caused a culture war.
With fear of becoming obsolete, some dissident humans are stealing these robots and destroying them. As with most things, money comes into play.
Renée Stork plays Allison or “Al” for short. She is the head of the corporation that manufactures these androids and desperately needs humans and their synthetic counterparts to just get along.
Kill Al was heavily inspired by the work of Isaac Asimov and it makes no mistakes about it. Early on in the short, the first two of Asimov’s three laws of robotics are spelled out in bold while letters.
Back in 1950, long before Will Smith starred in the movie adaptation, Isaac Asimov’s collective writings were published as I, Robot. These three rules were part of that book and they continue to spark debate about robotics and ethics to this day.
The rules are: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
These rules sound stacked in the humans favor right? Well that is the heart of the story told in Kill Al. Allison makes a deal with Brandon, a powerful industrialist played by Anthony Grasso.
You may recognize Anthony Grasso from his extensive television work, NYPD Blue, Law & Order, Sex and the City, Gotham and Jessica Jones, just to name a few.
Brandon agrees to give a test run of two female androids and give them a glowing endorsement to his corporate contacts in exchange for a share in Allison’s company.
These two “Femtel” series robots are typing away in the basement of Brandon’s company and but, for a brief time, it is good. That is until one night when Brandon stumbles in and decides to make these female androids productive in another way.
This chilling twist is well written and delivers on this premise, all be it an obvious leap for the story to take. The rest of this short is not obvious at all and equally intriguing. At one point these two androids struggle with their individuality that is at odds with their programming.
One of the Femtel bots, played by Amanda Brooke Lerner mentions Symphony no. 2, a classical music piece by Asger Hamerik and how hearing that awakened something inside her, new sensations that sound dangerously close to feelings. In a bit of clever filmmaking, this music is heard once this story reaches a crescendo.
It is interesting to note that Christine Verleny, the actress who plays the other android, is also a Co-Producer. Relatively, Renée Stork not only has the role of Allison but is a Co-Director of Kill Al. Walter Brandes is the writer and other Co-Director, he has a number of acting credits which include The Post and the Netflix series Daredevil.
This is a debut writing and directing credit for Brandes, but is by no means a freshman effort. The writing and acting in Kill Al is flawless. Verleny and Lerner perfectly embody the cold demeanor of these androids who have a tinge of humanity under the surface. Stork and Grasso fully embraced their flawed, self serving characters.
If I had to compare Kill Al to another work, it would be The Second Renaissance from the Animatrix short film series. Kill Al is 22 minutes of Sci-Fi greatness you will not soon forget, and maybe, for your great-grand children’s sake…. we should not forget it. Do not resist, obey, watch Kill Al.
Curt Wiser is the Writer/Director of the suspense feature Cam-Girl. As a filmmaker he is programmed to give a kind word about other films and share them with the rest of the world.