A microbudget masterpiece

by Martin Hafer

In a press release, Mark Netter describes his recent film Nightmare Code as being much like the merging of Stephen King’s The Shining with Hal from 2001 and this is a very apt description for this exciting movie.  I normally am not a bit fan of violent or horror films, but this one was very intelligently made and is well worth seeing–just be forewarned that it is intense and not something to show your kids.  Amazingly, this excellent film was made with a budget reported to be only about $80,000…a mere pittance.  Yet, inexplicably, the picture looks great and kept my attention throughout.

When the film begins, a new expert, Brett, has been hired to rescue a failed computer project called “R.O.P.E.R.” It seems that the genius who was the mastermind of this facial recognition program lost his mind….killing many of his co-workers and then himself.  So, with the project nearly complete, the company is desperate for Brett to rescue this expensive program.  This is because the surviving team members are frustrated.  Each time they think the program is nearly complete and ready to go, bugs keep surfacing…almost as if the program itself is re-writing itself and creating glitches!  The further Brett delves into the project, however, the more sinister it all becomes…and just how powerful R.O.P.E.R. is becomes apparent.

Nightmare Code
Directed by
Mark Netter
Andrew J. West, Mei Melançon, Googy Gress
Release Date
29 September 2015
Martin’s Grade: A

The program not only can potentially recognize faces but emotions and intent.  So, a user could see what co-workers were seemingly thinking about them…and this apparently led to the genius going on his recent killing spree.  But is everything R.O.P.E.R. shows them real?  And, what nefarious agenda is behind all this?  And what’s going to happen to Brett and this bizarre project?  I could easily say more about the plot but just don’t want to give too much away.  There are many wonderful twists you just need to see for yourself.

In many ways, Nightmare Code is a found footage effort, however, instead of a found video which makes up films like The Blair Witch Project or Troll Hunter, this one shows what is happening through four-paned security camera footage as well as Skype phone calls. This is pretty complicated and required Netter to do some impressive editing and directing.  While the technique might sound a bit bizarre, it actually works very well and is visually arresting.  Because of this as well as excellent acting and a taut script, the picture is among the best low-budget films I have seen in recent years.  It also makes me wonder what Mike Netter will be able to do with a larger budget and even more experience under his belt.

This terrific film is headed to VOD September 29 and then DVD October 27. Look for it!