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Paranoia 1.0 (2004)

DVD Cover (THINKFilm)
Directors:
Jeff Renfroe Jeff Renfroe
Marteinn Thorsson Marteinn Thorsson
Starring:
Richard Rees Richard Rees
Jeremy Sisto Jeremy Sisto
Udo Kier Udo Kier
Deborah Kara Unger Deborah Kara Unger
Bruce Payne Bruce Payne

6.1 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Paranoid Thriller, Psychological Sci-Fi, Science Fiction, Thriller
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Review by Chad
Added: January 31, 2005
Jeremy Sisto plays Simon J., a computer programmer living by himself and suffering from bouts of extreme paranoia. He's constantly checking over his shoulder, sure that someone is following him, but he really gets pushed to the edge when he wakes up and finds a package inside his apartment. Upon opening the package, he finds that there is nothing inside. Simon is a bit baffled by this, but he throws the empty box away and continues working on the code that he's writing for his employer. When the next empty package shows up, his paranoia level rises just a bit... as a result, he gets a huge padlock for his front door so that whomever is sneaking these packages into his apartment won't be able to continue doing such. Package number three arrives, so apparently, the padlock didn't do much good. This prompts Simon to get a state-of-the-art security system installed... but will it work? In between the package arrivals, Simon starts to get a craving for milk, and he also learns a bit about his neighbors in this apartment building. There's Trish (Deborah Kara Unger), a nurse who thinks that Simon is coming down with some sort of illness and should go to the hospital in order to get himself checked out. Howard (Lance Henriksen) is a homeless ex-scientist, who seems to know a bit about what's going on with Simon. Then there's Derrick (Udo Kier), a slightly off-kilter man who spends a considerable amount of time working on artificial intelligence programming for a disembodied robot-head that he's named Adam. Which, if any, of these characters know what's really going on? More importantly, who can Simon trust in his extremely paranoid state of mind?

After watching this movie from start to finish, I can safely say that it does indeed have a great little storyline going for it. The science fiction aspect of things is a key point to the storyline, which one wouldn't expect from reading the description up above... however, it turns out to be quite bizarre, but a well told story nonetheless. The problem with the movie is the slow pacing in the first forty minutes (give or take). The characters are built up for a bit, but then, at the point where the characters have been sufficiently developed and the movie should get moving, we get treated to a number of scenes that have nothing to do with the storyline at that point in the movie. Sure, these scenes make sense when all is revealed in the closing scenes, but in my humble opinion, there should have been more storyline progression in the middle chunk of the movie. Instead, we get hit with a large number of those types of scenes where you'll look back and think "oh, now that scene makes sense" when everything starts to wrap up. As a result, the audience of me grew quite bored with the events taking place on screen, something that could have been avoided had there been more progression of the storyline mixed in with these scenes. It also didn't help matters that there was a few scenes that dragged on longer than they should have, but wind up having no real purpose in the overall storyline.

Now, that last paragraph did have a nice chunk of negativity thrown in, but that's not to say that the movie was a failure. As I touched upon in the opening of said paragraph, the storyline is great when it finally starts to unfold. You really start to get drawn into things and come up with your own theories as to what's going on. There were some great twists thrown into the mix, and the movie ended up going a completely different route than what I was expecting. Surprises are always good in this type of film, especially when they're logical and well thought out (even if they do turn out to be completely bizarre). Jeremy Sisto (Simon) is excellent in the lead role, playing out the various phases of his character in a manner that is completely believable and never comes off feeling forced or over-the-top. The only problem I had with the casting was Deborah Kara Unger as Trish, the lead female. She was quite good as an actress, but she had zero on-screen chemistry with Sisto. The scenes involving these two seemed to drag on much longer than they actually did, though neither of the cast members were really at fault here... they just didn't work out together.

Overall, this is a worthy viewing if you're a fan of sci-fi movies that come with a hearty helping of originality, and if you can sit through those drawn-out scenes that occur before the movie really starts to pick up. This was the first movie for both directors involved, so I can only see good things happening for the two once they get some experience under their belts. 6/10.
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