Caity Lotz had nearly enough gravitas to make the silly horror movie The Pact work. She was able to sell being panicked and straddling an old school motorcycle without it being simple cheesecake. Because, oh yeah, she was totally in her underwear for that scene. But she takes the movie seriously enough that it’s worth watching, even though it cast Casper Van Dien as a pudding eating cop.
So it’s a nice surprise to see her show up opposite proper actor Toby Stephens in The Machine. It’s not clear early on where The Machine is going, thanks to a merciful lack of exposition and very little techno-babble. So when Lotz arrives as the typical movie scientist — too young, too pretty, too effervescent — The Machine nearly falls apart. But it’s quite the accomplishment that she’s the one to bring it back together, to breathe life into it while Toby Stephens emotes sullenly, to shoulder what this movie is trying to deliver in the space between Robocop and Her. And oh my, what shoulders Lotz has got!
The other real star of The Machine is the production design and cinematography. I don’t recall seeing a credit for “colourist” in other movies, or even “colorist”, but it’s appropriate here. The Machine looks like Beyond The Black Rainbow, the 2010 incomprehensible love letter to the 80s, but with a budget. This is what Richard Stanley intended with all that garish color in Hardware. This is where Cameron would have ended up without CG and 3D and Titanic. This is the supersexy hard sci-fi movie Michael Mann never made, featuring wetly growling cyborgs, mostly sensible touchscreen computers, and a synth pulse soundtrack that would make Tangerine Dream proud. The Machine glows and throbs with the heart and sound of the 80s, but the production values of the 21st century.
The Machine is available on VOD now. Watch it on Amazon.com to support Qt3.