Starring Emily Somers, Travis Aaron Wade, Martin Copping, Sonalii Castillo, Janna Bossier, Troy Vincent, Charlie Weirauch, Traci Moslenko, Justin M. Via

Directed by Joe Kawasaki

Expectations: High, the trailer was great.

In the modern age, horror films rarely scare or provide anything we haven’t seen before. The genre has moved into satiating viewers with extreme, sadistic pleasures, instead of interesting ideas and fun scares. But in Reboot, Joe Kawasaki’s Kickstarter-funded, cyberpunk short film, he sets his sights on something truly horrific: Internet terrorism. I have no idea if what is outlined in the film is actually possible, but the idea alone is frightening. Reboot isn’t truly a horror film, but its implications will haunt your thoughts for days as you log into your social media accounts and take it all for granted.

Reboot begins with an intro reminiscent of Koyaanisqatsi, showing us wonderful time-lapse photography of Los Angeles while a radio interview with a couple of hackers plays over the top of it. This intro goes on a little longer than I think it needed to, but it does set up the premise of the film incredibly well. When the title card drops at the end of the intro, and we fade into our heroine lying on the floor with an iPhone glued to her hand, we know exactly the implications of the situation she’s in.

As a low-budget production (the Kickstarter campaign raised $12,622), Reboot is gorgeous. I watch a ton of low-budget movies, and if they were all made with this amount of care and skill, the stigma that the term “low-budget” carries would be completely shattered. Of course, that would also mean that I wouldn’t have all those wonderfully bad horror movies to review, but that’s beside the point. Kawasaki has a great eye for visuals, and each shot is perfectly composed. It’s also of note to mention that this isn’t some shoddy handheld movie; Reboot is traditional, methodical filmmaking, and I was thoroughly impressed. Equally impressive are the computer and phone screens in the film, which look realistic and help tell the story instead of taking you out of it like they do in so many Hollywood films.

I think I enjoyed this line more than I should have.

The acting is also really well-done, going for subtle, somber tones that befit the reality of the situation at hand. Travis Aaron Wade plays the villain especially well, and imbues him with a lot of underlying rage and intensity. He was the most interesting character by far, and his scenes were especially electric. There are times when the film feels too somber, though, such as a violent moment in a restaurant, but I’m willing to forgive the film a small flaw in an otherwise impressive work. The ending also leaves you with questions, in a way that makes you consider everything you depend on for your daily life to function. You could call it “not much of a resolution,” but I choose to think of Reboot as more of a parable of what might be, and how quickly it can occur. Reboot isn’t a horror movie, but damn if it doesn’t deliver an intense, frightening feeling of unease.

I would love to see what Kawasaki could do with a feature-length film and a more robust budget. Reboot feels like just a hint at the talent within, and I’m sure he could deliver something unique and special. Overall, I’d call it a rousing success and I wish the team involved all the best. I just hope this movie isn’t a harbinger of the coming IT apocalypse! Check out the trailer, it’s got a great look and if you’re into hacking or cyberpunk movies, they don’t come much better than this.

Disclosure: Rosa Entertainment graciously provided me with a copy for review.