Satire's Stab at Technology's Dark Side
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Satire
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 24m
Director(s): Jacob Michael King
Writer(s): Jacob Michael King
Cast: Betsey Brown, Al Warren, James Healy Jr., Aaron Pruner, Jais Sardo, Jacob Michael King
Where To Watch: available now on VOD
RAVING REVIEW: Are you ready? No? Well, too bad because the world you once knew is changing. It’s changing at a rapid pace, from deepfake technology (the ability to put someone else’s face on someone else’s body convincingly) to AI that isn’t even featured in this film and is growing at a rapid pace; the world will be unrecognizable in a few years. In the long run, these technologies will become common everyday practice, and we’ll eventually look back on them as we did when computers were first introduced. (Can you imagine someone from the 70s or even 80s seeing you reading this on a little magic device not much larger than the cash in their wallets?)
The movie CAVIAR, a daring brainchild of Jacob Michael King, welcomes you aboard a strange journey. Not your usual silver-screen narrative, this film juggles advanced tech gimmicks and plotlines that redefine 'unconventional.' At the same time, the importance of the film is vital, and the intent is precise; I believe that the execution was fumbled.
CAVIAR's spotlight is on Antigone Corday, as played by Betsey Brown, a character that lives and breathes in the heart of social media. Antigone's life is tested following an unexpected loss - the sudden passing of her brother, Jeremiah. With the YouTube fame he left behind now resting on her shoulders, Antigone faces another heart-wrenching reality – their father's (James Healy Jr.) progressive mental decline.
CAVIAR sends us spiraling into a whirlpool of political insanity. With Antigone at her heart, this chain of events threatens her well-being and shakes the stability of everything we know. The plot reaches a boiling point when a concealed message from Jeremiah reveals itself, indicating a grand-scale conspiracy. This plot development drags Antigone, and by extension, the audience, deeper into a mysterious maze of hidden secrets, sparking questions about who can be trusted.
CAVIAR tries and, for the most part, successfully incorporates deepfake technology into the film. Incorporating well-known political figures into the narrative, all thanks to convincing digital renditions. This lends an innovative and somewhat eerie touch to the film; sadly, the narrative structure doesn’t reach the heights needed to take advantage of this. These deepfakes oscillate between indistinguishable and subtly unsettling, providing a glimpse into King's ambitious aspirations for this unique film.
A significant contributor to CAVIAR's narrative is the performance of the cast. Brown's interpretation of Antigone mirrors her character's struggle and uncertainty. Meanwhile, Al Warren slips into Jeremiah's shoes, successfully capturing the essence of a digital-age influencer. CAVIAR was unfortunately written and made too soon; ironically enough, the leaps that technology has taken since this film was finished are insanity on their own.
CAVIAR is Jacob Michael King's exploration of the shadowy realms of deepfakes and conspiracy theories. The film slips too far into the whole conspiracy theory world to be taken seriously, and it would have been far more potent if the focus had been more focused on the potential damages this new tech could cause. CAVIAR's satirical critique of societal norms and renowned personalities illustrates King's audacity and commitment to his vision.
To summarize, CAVIAR presents a stark forewarning of a potential dystopian future overwhelmed by misinformation and deep fake-induced chaos. Even if I didn’t love the result, the film’s purpose speaks for itself. It's an artistic protest against the terrifying possibility we might encounter, with satire being its weapon of choice. CAVIAR illuminates the ominous threats lurking in our data-centric world.
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[photo courtesy of MUTINEER FILMS]