Debug Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Signature Entertainment
Directed by David Hewlett
2014, 86 minutes, Rated 15(UK)
DVD released on 3rd November 2014
Tenika Davis as Prisoner
Adrian Holmes as Capra
Kerr Hewitt as Mel
Kyle Mac as Samson
Sent to work on an abandoned space freighter (you know the sort – cold outside, no kind of atmosphere) six young and conspicuously attractive computer hackers run afoul of the vindictive Operating System which lives and works there (sadly not named 'Holly'). 'Evil can't be deleted' goes the tagline to Debug, which lets you know everything about the film that you need to know. Also, tell that to Songs of Innocence, which I deleted from my iTunes without much trouble at all.
David Hewlett's Debug is essentially a low-budget 2001: A Space Odyssey for people who want none of the art, story or believable special effects (or three hour runtime) that go hand-in-hand with Kubrick's classic. It does have Jason Momoa though, undoing every single bit of cool he ever accrued with Game of Thrones – in the opening moments of the movie, no less. Rest assured, no matter how daft his eventual Aquaman is, his appearance here is destined to go down in history as the stupidest-looking thing he's ever done.
Sci-fi on a Syfy budget, Debug is not a film for those who need good CGI or practical effects to stay invested in a story. The sets look like something from out of an episode of Red Dwarf, while the computer animation is reminiscent of an early Playstation3 game. Clever filmmaking could have distracted the audience from its problems, but Debug often goes out of its way to show lengthy exterior shots of the ship and too many well-lit corridors and big shiny rooms. By doing this it makes its own artifice all too evident.
Which is a shame, because it has the foundation of a good film. The concept may be old hat, but there's still plenty of room for a sci-fi horror blend with shades of 2001, Sphere and Resident Evil. Late nineties' era Paul W.S. Anderson would have done wonders for this script (shut up, Event Horizon is a fantastic movie). Even Jason X managed to have fun with a similar cast, sense of humour and hokey visuals. As it is, Hewlett struggles with the tone and visuals, trying to do far too much with far too little. It's mostly annoying where it could have been creepy and serious where it could have gone dark. It gets even more frustrating when it unleashes the surprisingly competent gore, knocking off its irritating young cast one by one.
Debug isn't a complete waste, then, but nor is it something I could recommend to fans of horror, sci-fi or good movies. It has its moments, but they're few and far between. Never mind debugging, this could use a full system reboot.