APP Movie Review
Written by Richelle Charkot
DVD released by RAM Releasing
Directed by Bobby Boermans
Written by Robert Arthur Jansen
2014, 75 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on May 9th, 2014
Hannah Hoekstra as Anna Rijnders
Isis Cabolet as Sophie Welts
Robert de Hoog as Tim Maas
Alex Hendrickx as Stjn Rijnders
Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen as Daan Thijsse
Anna Rijnders is a typical university student. She pays as much attention as she can during lectures, she goes to parties, and she keeps her nose in her phone more often than her Psychoanalysis textbooks. After her brother is a victim of a terrible accident which puts him into intensive care, she finds it even harder to focus on her studies. She decides to join her friend at a house party to blow off some steam, where she awkwardly but sweetly reunites with Tim; her ex-boyfriend from high school. The next morning she wakes up with a hangover and a new app on her phone, a personal assistant named Iris who presents herself as harmless but quickly (and I mean quickly) escalates to be a life-ruining intrusion to Anna's wellbeing, as well as that of her loved ones.
APP is presented with "second screen viewing," which allows the audience to watch the movie with their phone by downloading an app. The second screen presents alternate views (such as what would be seen from Anna's phone camera lens), text messages that characters would be sending, news articles, Facebook messages, etc. Viewers can either download "Iris-App the movie" from the Android or iPhone app stores, or text "IRIS" to 97000 and follow subsequent links in the reply message. Although the gimmick is meant to add an extra layer to the viewing experience, it isn't necessary to understand the movie otherwise, so the film can very much be watched without. The "second screen" operates by the sound from the TV screen, pinpointing where you are in the film so that it can correspond appropriately, which didn't work very effectively for my experience, but my phone has been dropped six thousand times and I don't know if I can fully blame the technology. Although the second screen is entertaining and something that I've never seen before, I found it to cheapen the film by making it too gimmicky, which is especially apparent when the characters' (silly, over dramatic) texts were shown.
The first half of APP is very strong and concise, presenting Anna as a realistic university student and Iris as unsettlingly creepy, as well as a particularly chilling moment when a professor cracks under the pressure that Iris has created. Although I greatly enjoyed the first half (which made me forgive the second half a little more), as the film unfolds and Iris' origins are revealed in a cheesy rooftop showdown, the poor writing comes to the forefront. Many of the major plot points in the film are left unexplained (or at least, poorly explained, as I have absolutely no idea what the heck happened), and Anna's character arc from being a slightly frazzled student to an ass-kicking action hero is too drastic to be even remotely buyable. This film could have been an effective piece if its ending was more thoughtfully handled, but as is, it created campy, overdramatic tension (ala Taken) and left substantial plot holes and shaky character arcs that are too cavernous to ignore.
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