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The Tangle – film review

June 8, 2019


A super-engaging sci-fi noir murder mystery.

Reviewed on Sunday 2nd June 2019

Written & directed by Christopher Soren Kelly. Starring: Joshua Bitton, Christopher Soren Kelly, Jessica Graham, Nicole da Silva, Anil Kumar, Mary Jane Wells and Bel Deliá. Running time: 99 mins.

In a world where humanity is now willingly jacked into an AI-controlled hive-mind simulated reality, the act of violence has become a virtual impossibility. When a government agent tasked with ensuring the AI never turns rogue is found dead – possibly murdered – in a secure safe room, it is up to her fellow agents to discover who among them could be responsible. With the room locked from inside – how was this even achieved? Was it murder? Was it suicide? Or was it something in between?

Having been a huge fan of Christopher Soren Kelly’s acting in such films as Ink, The Frame and Infinity Chamber – it was with an enormous sense of excited anticipation I was recently granted an exclusive pre-release viewing of this, his debut feature as writer-director. And no – I wasn’t disappointed. Right up to the unforeseeable and clever reveal of the killer’s identity – this engaging little gem of a film had me hooked from the beginning.

I believe it was Orson Welles who once said, ‘The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.’ – a universal truism backed up by The Tangle. Utilizing minimal sets and locations and a tiny cast, the filmmakers take full advantage of their budgetary restraints. In a world where ‘no-one uses their eyes anymore’ – being neurally jacked-in to an AI-controlled simulated reality, there is actually very little tech to speak of depicted in the film (aside from a driverless Robocab in the opening moments and the hazmat-style space suits the agents use to move around undetected in the nanobot-infested environment) – this lack of on-screen tech actually working in the film’s favour, as it provides little distraction from what really matters – the character interplay and story. Indeed, the resulting effect is that we find ourselves hanging on every word in order to gain insight into this world and how it operates (this isn’t a film where one can merely sit back and passively observe – It demands we pay attention from the get-go). Exploring such things as mass surveillance, loss of privacy, gas-lighting and mind control, The Tangle is pretty much ambivalent in its depiction of the psychopathy of Transhumanism – taking what is effectively a neutral stance on Ray Kurzweil’s insanely anti-human singularity agenda.

One of Soren Kelly’s greatest strengths as a screenwriter is his demonstrated ability to fashion expositional dialogue which sounds natural – and not forced or contrived. Indeed, the dialogue throughout is crisp and razor sharp. And the non-linear narrative moves effortlessly back and forth in time, while remaining comprehensible and easy to follow – as the mystery of whodunit is compellingly revealed.

Performances from a cast of relative unknowns are uniformly excellent and Soren Kelly’s direction is on-point and solid. And the cinematography by Robert Muratore (The Frame, Chasseur) – is as gorgeous as always; with the snowy Colorado mountain sequences being particularly striking. While the evocative and yet unobtrusive percussive synth score by Liam Fox O’Brien effectively augments the growing sense of tension and mystery as the plot unfolds.

If you’re someone who likes their sci-fi being more about the exploration of ideas and possibilities (or indeed good old-fashioned and smartly-written whodunits) – then Christopher Soren Kelly’s The Tangle comes highly recommended.

4 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

From → film reviews

  1. Mark permalink

    Looks like a ripper Greg. Where can I see it?



    • gregory moss permalink

      Cheers Mark. As far as I know, it’s yet to secure a distributor. But I’ll be posting updates here in the comments section – as far as how it can be seen – as they happen. 🙂


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