Writer & Director
(INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3)
Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson, Betty Gabriel, Benedict Hardie, Linda Cropper and Simon Maiden
If you’ve never seen a film belonging to the body horror genre before, then now is the time and UPGRADE is the perfect film to first experience it. A sub-genre of horror, body horror movies intentionally show graphic or psychologically disturbing violations of the human body. Though at first that may not sound like highly appealing viewing, there are several reasons why this darkly comical Australian made film that’s set in the near-future will be an absolute hit with its target crowd, is addictive viewing for a broader audience and ought to be added to your watch list now!
Set in a dark world in which technology is an even more prominent aspect of our everyday lives than it is now, Leigh Whannell’s UPGRADE stars Logan Marshall-Green (PROMETHEUS) as Grey Trace, an old-school mechanic who hasn’t quite conformed to the reliance on modern technology as his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo from Aussie TV series, Winners & Losers) has, who’s employed by tech giant, Cobolt. A simple man, Grey prefers his vintage, self-driven automobile over the driver-less computer-driven cars mostly on the roads nowadays. When a tragic incident occurs that changes Grey’s life in an instant, his only hope of gaining some of that life back lies in the hands of STEM, an experimental and unreleased piece of technology to be implanted into his body, made by tech engineer Eron (NEED FOR SPEED’s Harrison Gilbertson).
From production studio Blumhouse, who created fellow low-budget features GET OUT, WHIPLASH and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and impressively filmed entirely in Melbourne, Australia, UPGRADE is a late-night special that’s a sure bet to gain a cult following. To give you an even clearer understanding of what to expect, this science-fiction crime thriller with bold strokes of humour can be likened to and isn’t too dissimilar to watching an (extended) episode of Netflix series Black Mirror on the big screen!
After a super cool intro (don’t be running late!) and a run of the mill opening act that ticks the formalities boxes off, UPGRADE gets an infectious and unyielding energy into gear that becomes a driving and unstoppable force. The film exudes a profound sense of belonging that’s largely manufactured by its pumping music score, slick visual design, stylised action choreography, and the effective use of lighting and colour throughout. This is done in similar fashion to THE NEON DEMON and SIN CITY, only not quite to the same level of absolute all-round brilliance. Visually and aurally, UPGRADE is a self-assured film that knows exactly what it wants to be and what to deliver to its primary audience.
While indisputably excellent in those aforementioned areas of filmmaking, the begging question must be asked: does the narrative hold up just as strongly? The reception to this from audiences is bound to be mixed. While watching in real-time, an unspecified number of loose ends become visible that lessen the credibility of the plot. Though most of these holes in the script are later patched up, UPGRADE still leaves some uncertainty in the air that will irk those who possess a higher attention to detail.
Even if the narrative component of UPGRADE isn’t able to elevate the film to a level of complete excellence, the mighty atmosphere concocted and its interest-arousing plot still give it plenty of uptick.
3 ½ stars
MA15+ (Strong science fiction themes and violence)
Moviedoc thanks Madman for the invite to the screening of this film