MOVIE REVIEW: Cyber Bride (2019)
[CW: depictions of domestic violence & animal cruelty]
The idea of robots and androids — specifically the female-presenting kind — has fascinated me since I was a child. These “fem-bots” held a hope for me, a socially-awkward boy nerd, whereas I could buy or build myself the perfect female companion if I gave up trying to understand the mystery that is Woman. The older I get, the more I realize the “perfect woman” is a myth and no-one could (and nobody should) buy or build one due to the implications of enslaving what might be a sentient artificial being in a humanoid form so closely and accurately resembling our own. The parable of Frankenstein’s monster, “playing God”, and all the negative social stigma that comes with it. That said, what if people could find the perfect mate…outside the confines of our common understanding of animate human partners?
The movie Cyber Bride gives us CyberTech Solutions, and its owner Don “Dazzler” Daniels (played by James Murden)— a slick science salesman peddling cyborg companions. There’s a market for them: they’re programmable, built to specs, made of pliant artificial flesh, and they do ANYTHING you command. It’s made a lot easier by the way this movie portrays flesh-and-blood women. Almost every actual woman is made to seem callous, ugly, petty, and generally unlikeable. By comparison, the men don’t come off much better: nearly every man in the movie has had an encounter with a CyberTech cyborg companion OR wants to have one…in lieu of dealing with flesh-and-blood women.
The most glaring example of why this ends poorly is because of the resentment that builds in failed interpersonal romantic relationships: one man named Darren (Simon Manley, No Time to Die) beat his wife Lina (Sophie Jugé, “Good Omens” [Amazon Prime]) because he thought she was cheating on him, so she divorced him in turn (as you do) because she was NOT cheating on him. He went and bought a CyberTech cyborg and had it made to look like her. Imagine my surprise when the movie took a dark turn as he told the robot to “beg for her life” and began to beat the robot until the wires showed through its skin. It was no surprise when the robot killed him with a blow-dryer in the bathtub I’M SORRY THE WOMEN ARE ALSO THE VILLAINS IN THE MOVIE ON TOP OF EVERYTHING ELSE? And this was made in 2019? Yikes. So the “robot rebellion” story-telling cliché is ALSO a gendered uprising? Real classy.
Wrapped up in this story our protagonist Rick (Andrew Hollingworth, Suicide Club) and his wife Angelique (Canadian actress Rebecca Finch, Buoyancy). I mention her because she is dead before the 15-minute mark after a robbery gone wrong. After the funeral, a depressed Rick has an encounter with his oh-so-creepy neighbor Barry (played to perfection by Peter Cosgrove, Scarecrow’s Revenge) and his cyborg companion Anna (Romanian actress Ruxandra Porojnicu, “Coronation Street” [TV]). She’s what occupies all his time now, Barry explains suggestively, and soon Rick is ordering a replica of Angelique from CyberTech. This course of action flies in the face of the objections made by his annoying sister Jo (British actress Claudine-Helene Aumord, The Viking War). She rightly says it’s creepy to make a replica of your dead wife — especially when Rick doesn’t know how it works. He doesn’t care; anything to have Angelique again.
Soon the cyborg Angelique is delivered, and it has access to everything Rick sent these people to make Cyber-Ang as lifelike as possible. Voice recordings, video for playback, — everything that showed Angelique interacting and responding as a person. This means our protagonist Rick was allowed access to Angelique’s personal files, emails, diary, photos, and who know what else as her spouse…so a company would make him a robot imposter that looked like Angelique…so he could feel better.
Dear Reader: Mental health is not a joke, and neither is your digital information, so make sure after you read this to set up some sort of LIVING WILL which dictates the use of the files that make up your digital footprint.
Speaking of digital access, Cyber-Ang pulls an MCU’s Ultron (i.e., learns about humanity’s propensity for and pleasurable pursuit of murder from the Internet) and joins the standing cyborg secret plot to wipe out humanity. If the humans can do it, the cyborgs reasoned, why can’t we? Cyber-Ang didn’t actually plan on going through with genocide; it just wanted a perfect world with Rick. Some could not exist in her perfect world, so the cyborg kills the annoying Jo, a lecherous repairman, and stomps Rick’s dog to death. Other CyberTech cyborgs across the world are less precise, murdering their masters or anyone within earshot or line of sight that mocks them.
A climax where Rick and Cyber-Ang face off is present, but the ending was a wild one: even after knowing it could kill him easily, Cyber-Ang pleaded with Rick not to delete its memory with his CyberTech EMP gun…and Rick relented. So now he has his android duplicate wife back…but at what cost? It does not seem to matter to Rick, and THAT’s the scariest part of all.
- The podcaster (Shawn C. Phillips) really sold the creep factor while touting the “benefits” of owning a CyberTech cyborg companion.
- STOP ALLOWING ANDROIDS UNFETTERED ACCESS TO THE INTERNET
- I know similar ideas to solve companionship issues have been posited before in visual media: AMC’s “Humans” [TV], DETROIT: Become Human [VG], the Westworld franchise (the 1973 movie, its 1976 sequel, the 1980 CBS TV series, and the 2016 HBO TV series), The Stepford Wives (1975 and the 2004 remake), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Ex Machina (2014), the Blade Runner franchise (1982 and its 2019 sequel), A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001), and to an even grimmer extent, Cloud Atlas (2012). I just don’t think it’s been this badly handled before, but I’m probably wrong.
- I don’t know if there is a nicer security guard in the world; I’m glad at least one guy isn’t a damned fool in this movie.
- The lone Black actress in this movie is Carmina Cordelia, as Don’s cyborg plaything “Kim”. She shows up in all the promo videos — and this is her very first feature-length movie!
- The CyberTech maintenance tech (Mike Kelson) was amazing; I’d have him at my back anytime in a robot uprising.
- A telling fact: none of the women in the movie had CyberTech cyborg companions of any gender. I wonder how women having cyborg companions might have impacted the story.
- Andrew Hollingworth’s American accent is fantastic. It’s odd when compared to almost EVERYONE ELSE’S British accent and he’s also supposed to be British.
- The front-man Don Daniels is a bit strange; what if HE’S a cyborg standing in for another person? If so, why?
- SHYAMALAN TWIST: This movie was written by two men, but directed by a woman.