In this spooky horror meets science fiction, humanoid technology is compared to false prophets in the Bible, as filmmaker Ariel Martin playfully depicts a dark future where automation encourages sinful indulgence and a lack of great parenting.
Very early on, you get the sense of what will happen in this short with its ominous music, shots of raw chicken, a knife… a baby. But don’t let that predictability keep you from watching. What makes this short special is its execution.
Using found footage coupled with an infomercial type strategy to introduce the robotic star of the short, The iMom, on the TV screen, we hear testimonials from users of the robot who swear that the invention has “changed their lives!” and given them new-found freedom. The too-perfect reviews are enough to set anyone on edge with skepticism.
Martin continues to allude to the darkness to come with striking cinematography and perspective from various surveillance cameras throughout the home that iMom serves. It’s comparable to something out of Paranormal Activity or Panic Room. The idea that those cameras could catch something scary will mess with your psyche as you continue to watch.
The filmmaking techniques in this short are truly akin to a horror film and the suspense of this short builds with a slow burn. But it’s the performance by Australian actress, Matilda Brown (who also starred in previously featured short Cockatoo), who takes it to the next level. She commits to her role as a robot so genuinely that it’s to the point of creepy, especially during the final scene of the film.
Throughout the short, there’s a biblical presence, that again, gives off the classic horror film vibes. Is the iMom a prophet or false prophet? Is she good or evil? ‘Sam’, played by Karl Beattie, isn’t so sure. This building conflict and his ever-present fear of darkness is sure to tug you in many different directions as the plot plays out.
We asked writer/director Martin what inspired The iMom: “I came across a photo of a baby interacting with a robotic arm and was struck by how it captured the idea of ‘man verses machine’, and wanted to take a narrative look at where technology is taking us as a society.”
Let us hope that Martin’s prediction isn’t going to come true.
The iMom has gotten quite a bit of festival recognition this year, including the Catalina Film Festival, Flickerfest and Aspen Shortsfest. Martin is currently working on a new short film based in Kiev, Ukraine, which is inspired by YouTube clips of the kids who climb enormous abandoned cranes and Soviet structures. He also has feature projects in the works.