For ten years, inventor David Kressen has lived in seclusion with his inventions, including Adam, a robot with incredible lifelike human qualities. When reporter Joy Andrews is given access to their unconventional facility, she is alternately repelled and attracted to the scientist and his creation. But as Adam exhibits emergent behavior of anger and jealousy towards her, she finds herself increasingly entangled in a web of deception where no one’s motives are easily decipherable.
The more a robot looks like a real human, the more empathy most people seem to have for it. If a robot becomes almost ‘real’ in its looks, movements and interactions, many people suddenly experience a huge drop in empathy where it can even flip to extreme dislike – this stage of human replicas being almost truly lifelike, but not quite right, is known is the Uncanny Valley.
And so, the title of this movie gives a lot away already: somthing is not quite right here. Reporter Joy (Lucy Griffiths) is invited to spend a week with a top secret project – which turns out to be the world’s first perfect humanoid artificial intelligence, Adam. As she spends more time with Adam (David Clayton Rogers) and his creator David Kressen (Mark Webber), she gets to know both of them better. But as she gets closer to David, Adam seems to start to show some jealous, and worrying, behaviour: this is new ground for this AI to grasp – he has never been outside the fortified lab. As the story slowly progresses, Adam’s behaviour gets increasingly worrying…
The movie was scripted before Ex Machina, and released within a few weeks of it, and it is easy to want to make comparisons: both are about a near-perfect AI, with an external person brought in to the top secret project and location to test just how convincing this AI exactly is. But beyond that they are not really similar films. Firstly, Ex Machina is clearly superior. Secondly, they don’t try to make the same point if you can call it that.
Uncanny has good cinematography, decent acting and good production value; it lacks real tension however and the denouement is, well, rather underwhelming. It doesn’t really manage to rise above the level of a conceptually interesting short story or Twilight Zone episode. There are actually a lot more avenues that could have been pursued to create more depth or tension in the story – but it sort of slowly but surely straightlines to its single-hit ‘twist’, which is unfortunately not a particularly gratifying (or surprising) one.