By Andrea Thompson
The future? There’s an app for that. Or at least there is in “H0us3,” a high tech thriller where all the horror comes from being in the room where it happens. Part of the shock is this isn’t just Manolo Munguia’s first feature, it’s his first film ever, and he packs more scares just from putting a group of people in a single location and letting us watch them talk and go on their electronics than most filmmakers do with every effect in the world at their disposal.
Things begin the way most on-screen horrors do, with a group of friends meeting up in a remote location. These friends though don’t exactly embody a body count waiting to happen though. They may be college buddies, but they’ve long since graduated and are now firmly middle-aged, and old enough to remember when the Internet they remain fascinated by was still a wild place where people roamed free without much of anything resembling order or consequences.
The most compelling and charismatic of their group, Rafa (Rubèn Serrano), isn’t still up to his old tricks so much as taken them to a whole other level. He’s the kind of intelligent, confident guy who assumes he’s in control because he generally is. He’s mastered the online world enough to spy on his neighbors and knows their every secret, and he’s just decrypted a massive Wikileaks file that no one was supposed to be able to crack. Put it on your phone and it just might help you see the future. Toy with it a bit and you see the past. Put it in the wrong hands…and the results are cataclysmic.
As the implications of our online world are discussed, as well of the ease in which our privacy could be, and routinely is, violated, you’ll want to change your password. And when the havoc their new toy will probably wreak is revealed, you’ll long for the quaintness of “The Terminator,” a time when artificial intelligence could be outrun. If there’s any weakness in “H0us3,” it’s that it can’t imagine people who aren’t so plugged in actually exist, and that fact is the key to an outcome that’s less than apocalyptic. But then, it’s hard to imagine it much detracting from the bleakness Munguia makes so terrifyingly feasible, even when it should be hard to follow or even outright ridiculous. See “H0us3” and then, yes, change your damn password.
H0us3 is playing through Oct. 4 at the Twisted Dreams Film Festival. More info can be found at www.twisteddreamsff.com.