Written by Annie Biggs, Tony Brownrigg, Christopher Romero & Schnele Wilson
Directed by Christopher Romero
Meg Jordan...Schnele Wilson
Victor Salinas...Blake Bahner
Andy Coberman...Jeffrey Combs
NOTE: This is the fourth in a painful series of Netflix Challenge movie reviews. Digital Prophet was viewed at the suggestion of Carl from the magnificent I Like Horror Movies blog (and, in a roundabout way, he's the man responsible for this whole Challenge to begin with!). If you'd like to find out exactly what the Netflix Challenge is, or if you'd like to recommend a film yourself, just click here.
Police detective Meg Jordan and her partner Vic Salinas become embroiled in a seemingly endless homicide investigation when a serial killer begins targeting victims in their city. The victims appear to have been chosen at random as they can find no link between any of them, until the waifish Newman (not the Seinfeld character) drops the answer into their laps: all of the deceased belonged to an internet chat site called Cyecom.
Cyecom's virtual inhabitants are deep into worlds of fantasy, and each of the victims had mentioned during the course of their chats that they read the underground fetish comic book called "Cyberthoughts". The storyline of this comic involves a "god-like artificial intelligence" that has the power to make people "computer-like", and leads a cult of cyberpunks in a rebellion against the world. Or some such twaddle.
The police here are, at their best, ineffective investigators; at their worst, they are downright terrible people. The contempt with which they view the comic book culture is vile and yet laughable, assuming they're all a bunch of virginal freaks and weirdos, any one of who could be slicing and dicing innocents at any given moment. It really makes you wonder what they must think about horror movie fans, doesn't it? This is really solidified when a pair of them beat the ever-loving shit out of a comic shop owner because they didn't exactly believe in his philosophies.
I have to admit that I was pretty much destined to dislike this movie from word go, and I'll tell you why:
I have a deep contempt for movies that rely on (at-the-time) modern technology for their plot, because they instantly date themselves when the next wave of updates come along. That may be fine and good for a comedy (it's okay for the creation scene in Weird Science to look dated, for instance), but when it comes to a supposedly serious film such as this, that datedness just makes it too hard to take seriously. I may even have been able to get past this if there were more positive aspects to dwell on, but there weren't: the acting is stiff, the dialogue is poor, the special effects are mediocre, and the story manages to be both dull and self-important at the very same time.
Jeffrey Combs is just about the only thing in this movie worth seeing as the creator of the "Cyberthoughts" comic book, a crazed heroin maniac who has a few good monologues ("You're nothing but a couple of cheeseball pawns on the chessboard of life!"), but sitting through the rest of this hot mess to catch his scenes is hardly worth it.
If you're a diehard fan of 1993's Ghost in the Machine (hey, it could happen!), but have always wondered what it would be like if it was crossed with a six-dollar version of The Matrix, then you might actually enjoy this movie. Everyone else should probably leave it on the shelf.
"I think those subversive comics are dangerous"