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Frightfest 2017 Review: Incontrol

Have you ever considered what it would be like to be somebody else for a day? Incontrol sees a group of college students do exactly that after creating a device that allows them to go into the mind, and body, of another person. There are rules of course; it has to be someone close by, and doing it for too long will give you a bit of a headache.

This Canadian sci-fi horror movie, from writer-director Kurtis David Harder (his sophomore feature), will remind readers of a certain age of Flatliners. Never mind that a remake/reboot of that very film is set to hit cinemas this coming Friday. Still, weird mind control stuff is nearly always a winner and Incontrol establishes its ruthlessly simple premise with little fuss.

Our heroine is Anja Savcic’s Samantha, a mousy, lonely young woman with a difficult home life who gets sucked in thanks to a crush on Levi Meaden’s Mark. After being invited to a private gathering at his buddy’s apartment, Samantha soon finds herself with wires attached to her head and a whole different world to explore. Naturally, she soon uses Mark’s girlfriend as a host.

Anja Savcic and Levi Meaden in Incontrol

Incontrol has a super-clinical, very white look, from its university-set scenes to those in the apartment where much of the body-swapping action takes place. It’s an aesthetic that suits its pseudo-scientific musings well. When the action moves outdoors, into the breathtaking, presumably Canadian, landscape, the outside world looks like another planet in comparison.

There’s virtually no setup, InControl wasting not a moment of its zippy, 82-minute run-time. The concept is cool, a sort of it-could-really-happen-one-day idea that, much to his credit, Harder doesn’t over-complicate. There are sequences where it’s unclear whether Samantha’s boss, for example, is in control of her own faculties and these are left mostly open to debate.

Avery Kentis’s score is a low, sci-fi hum that accentuates that things aren’t quite as they seem without ever outright screaming it in our faces. There’s a suggestion that swapping places with someone may be a form of addiction, even a stand-in for an eating disorder in the case of the very slight Samantha, but this isn’t hammered home either, merely quietly suggested.

Levi Meaden in Incontrol gunThe big question hanging over Incontrol is: what happens to the person who’s swapped bodies if the host dies? When this does eventually come up, it’s handled neatly, while the vanilla heroine continues to sit and sadly read texts/eat peanut butter as Mark’s girlfriend, completely unaware of the danger. She’s a great audience insert because her motivations are never quite clear either.

There are some odd moments that push Incontrol into schlockier territory, in particular a late-introduced character trait related to sucking a lollipop, but otherwise this is a restrained, stylish and thought-provoking slice of sci-fi horror. Harder really sticks the landing too, with a nicely nasty jolt that leaves the audience with more questions than answers. Exactly as it should be.

Director(s): Kurtis David Harder
Kurtis David Harder
Stars: Anja Savcic, Levi Meaden, Philip Lewitsky, Brittany Allen
Release: TBC
Studio/ Production Co: Digital Interference Productions
Language: English
Length: 82 minutes
Sub-Genre: Sci-fi

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Written by Joey Keogh
Slasher fanatic Joey Keogh has been writing since she could hold a pen, and watching horror movies even longer. Aside from making a little home for herself at Wicked Horror, Joey also writes for Birth.Movies.Death, The List, and Vague Visages among others. Her actual home boasts Halloween decorations all year round. Hello to Jason Isaacs.
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