Upgrade: An Underrated Gem

Upgrade: An Underrated Gem

This review contains spoilers.

 Technology can take us out of the real world and give us a false sense of reality. Spending too much time on social media can give people an unrealistic look at life such as the way they look at their body, someone’s life, or how much popularity they have. Technology is an everyday part of our lives. Everywhere you go there are people on computers or phones struggling to get off. The internet can cause you to believe things that aren’t true and the film “Upgrade” mirrors today’s society.

“Upgrade” is a 2018 body-horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell. Whannel has multiple writing credits on other movies such as Saw and Insidious. This is his directorial debut and he knocks it out of the park. This is a criminally underrated film, in my opinion, as it tells a beautifully shot, engaging, and thematic story with a measly budget of five million dollars. Whannel does so much with so little. This movie blew me away and I believe more people should go see it. 

The film depicts a paralyzed man (Trace) who receives a microchip that allows him to walk. With this ability, he investigates his wife’s murder. In the film STEM was said to be an invention that would change everything. Being able to give a paralyzed man the ability to walk only scratched the surface of the chip. 

This theme of technology and control is timely. At the end of this film, STEM takes full control of Trace. This film has a grim message that no matter how much we try and escape technology it is inevitable it will have a hold on us. In the final moments of the film Trace does everything he can to stop STEM from having control over him but the chip just puts him in a dream-like state where he is back with his wife. He is unaware of the loss of control of his body and believes he is with his wife again. He is in an illusion. 

The look of this film is beautiful as it is filled with colorful and unique settings. There are unique visuals in every part of this movie. In one scene, character’s converse casually in a lab while lightning flashes from a cloud at a nearby table. Cars have geometric designs further immersing the viewer in this advanced society. Colors display the mood of each locale with yellows, purples and blues used to convey emotion. The use of practical effects is also well done and grounds the movie’s look. This displays the normalcy of the future in this world. 

The direction in this film is another high note. The fight sequences have precise camera movements as it portrays a computer using a human’s body to fight. This detail is very interesting to me as it is very unique to the film. 

Logan Marshall- Green’s performance as Trace is well done as we see him display many different emotions in this movie. This film calls for range and he demonstrates this perfectly as we feel his pain, disbelief, and laughter throughout this film. 

Overall this movie is well done and uses science fiction horror to portray a horrifying reality. The use of practical effects, unique settings, and good direction make this a very entertaining and timely film.

This film can be viewed on VUDU, Google Play Movies, and Hulu.