A Techno Thriller
The new Dutch film “App” is a straightforward techno-thriller that hopes to enhance the experience with a unique second-screen phone app experience. Moviegoers already pull out their phones far too frequently in theaters, so if you think this sounds like a nightmare scenario you’re not alone. Anna (Hannah Hoekstra) has her hands full with a boyfriend, classwork and a brother in the hospital, but her life grows even more out of control when a mysterious app appears on her phone. IRIS is helpful at first, but soon we see that the malicious app is spying, sharing compromising photos and videos and manipulating the electronic world around Anna with deadly consequences.
Anna is greatly attached to her Smartphone and she reminds that, “The more means of communication people have available to them the less they communicate.”
Anna’s always on and instantly available, but it’s not until she wakes up the day after a big party that she discovers the app she didn’t know she needed. It’s been installed on her phone without her consent and immediately starts making her life easier. IRIS is a self-described personal assistant, capable of setting reminders, updating calendars and more, but “she” soon goes about controlling more questionable parts of Anna’s life too.
Surprising and compromising videos start appearing and it seems that Anna’s phone is the source for that. However, no one believes that the phone is acting on its own and instead Anna finds herself ostracized for being so cruel. Any attempts to uninstall the app are fruitless so she sets out to discover the who and the why behind it all.
Director Bobby Boermans and writer Robert Arthur Jansen keep things moving at a solid pace and the resulting story gets more than a little crazy as more is revealed, but it wisely keeps the scale small and manageable. The story uses thriller trappings in service of a slight commentary on the ever-encroaching technological tide of devices and information. Indeed we see that the more things we have doing things for us the less things we’re doing for ourselves or with other people. Human contact and the natural order of life are being more and more compromised, or enhanced, by technology. And maybe that’s not as good of a thing as we think.
This is a great idea for a film but here we do not see anything exceptional about it. Anna is smart and capable both intellectually and physically, and it’s incredibly refreshing to see. The men in her life are never the determining factors or catalysts for action in the same way they often are in American films. Hoekstra makes Anna a convincing character in both her dramatic delivery and her physical prowess, and she is charismatic.
I can’t really say much about the plot because this is a mystery so let me just say that while this is not a great film, it certainly is an interesting one.
The home video release includes extensive bonus content:
- Director Bobby Boerman’s commentary
- Special Effects bonus featurette
- Original APP theatrical trailer