In the near future, prisons have turned into online portals where subscribers get to vote on inmates’ fates.
Initial release: April 5, 2019 (USA)
Director: Suzie Halewood
Music composed by: Paul E. Francis
Producers: Suzie Halewood, Christina Varotsis
Screenplay: Suzie Halewood, Anon
“In the future, prisons have been turned into online portals where paying subscribers get to vote on what felons eat, watch, wear and who they fight. Panopticon TV is so successful it is about to be rolled out to a whole new town. When the world’s most downloaded felon escapes, the authorities set a trap to reel him in. The bait is his little brother who has so far managed to avoid detection.”
It’s a reasonably smart, somewhat timely riff on Current Conditions rendered in a dry, slow action satire, a picture lacking a charismatic lead or much in the line of entertainment value.
In 2039, the online faces of the Resistance are mocking us for eating and staring at our cell phones, “stuffing your faces while the world burns.” The hectoring hoodie-wearing spokesman declares that “We’re gonna bring down your house and watch it burn.”
Twenty years in the future, “Anonymity is a crime,” and being “off the grid” and “unregistered” means you could officially disappear — and not just in the digital sense.
Hovering drone gunships keep watch over the cities, CCTV cameras are pretty much every where and small drones can track and trace anybody Central Control chooses to watch.
The Nanny State has taken on Nazi State totalitarianism. A drone barks through its speaker, “Smoking is not permitted in the street…you have ten seconds” to put out your smoke and move along.
But the power here isn’t so much in elected or anointed authority. It’s in corporations, especially Panopticon Interactive. They have created the most addictive streaming reality TV of the day, tracking a prison inmate 24/7, like an incarcerated “Truman Show.”
And their public face, Nielsen (Alison Doody of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”) is dreaming bigger. In a nation where the incarceration rate long exceeded the crime rate, corporations have control of the prisons and have found fresh ways to monetize them.
That’s why Nielsen has turned Hardin Jones (Jamie Draven) into a star. He’s the unwilling, unwitting, brawling spokesmodel for product placement in prison togs. He has no idea he’s being watched.
“He’s had more drugs pumped into him than Central America,” Nielsen crows. “Crime’s down. Consumerism’s up. What’s not to like?”
Her bigger idea? “New Town,” a planned community where convicts interact with one another and the general public, watched (on your streaming device) as they “earn their way back into society.” Or don’t. By committing crimes, acts of violence on their neighbors? Maybe.