THE ALPHA TESTBy RodneyHatfieldJr for Indie
I did not even notice this film when it came out in March of last year. Let’s be honest, with the pandemic just starting and fear gripped everyone. The only reason I found it was because the power was out and I was cruising streaming services. I was reading the notifications on Tubi.com(and I only read notifications when I am bored) and this particular film grabbed my attention. So I sat in the darkness discovering a new film. Thankfully we only experienced the edge of Hurricane Elsa and lost power.
We all can agree that robots are a staple of science fiction and horror films. Usually, they are either benevolent helpers or are threatening our existence. The Alpha Test combines the two when we push our mechanical servants over that line.
JD (Brad Belemjian) has won an Alpha (Rae Hunt). Alphas are robotic home assistants, a new product on the market. His father Rob (Wynn Reichert) is amused by it. His mother Mimi (Alice Raver) however is not happy about it. To the point where she locks it in the garage at night. Only Lily (Bella Mart) treats it with respect. Trained to learn from its surroundings and interactions Alpha becomes confused and hurt by the treatment it receives. Lily, herself the target of bullying, tells Alpha to stand up for itself(herself). This leads to some unforeseen consequences and a failed factory reset.
Aaron Mirtes deserves a lot of credit. He not only wrote and directed it, but he was also producer, editor, and cinematographer as well. It is also in association with High Octane Pictures. They’re making a move into production as well as distribution now.
I won’t get into spoilers but there’s a message in the first act about bullying as Alpha learns from and reacts to her treatment. She also learns from what she hears in conversation and on television. Now before you think this is in the realm of fantasy, remember a few years back Microsoft put Tay, an AI bot on Twitter to see how it would learn from conversations. It took less than a day for Tay to begin tweeting white supremacists. Well, it’s the same idea here. Alpha is exposed to the darker side of humanity and learns all the wrong lessons.
The Alpha Test is an effective piece of sci-fi/horror. And perhaps, in a world in which we’re doing more and more with algorithms and artificial intelligence, a cautionary tale.
High Octane Pictures release The Alpha Test on DVD and streaming services.
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