ROMI is the artificial intelligence system that assists a fancy-schmancy smart home in Robert Cuffley’s horror-thriller of the same name. Young hit-and-run fugitive Maddie (Alexa Barajas of TV’s Yellowjackets) has been assigned to stay at the exclusive house to maintain her cover while her politician mother runs for election without any controversies. Maddie’s getaway is also assisted by the home owner Hertig (Pavel Kriz of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) and programmer extraordinaire Barkley (Juan Riedinger of Riceboy Sleeps). But despite the sleek technology and the experienced help, Maddie feels vulnerable and freaked out when ROMI turns on her.
Cuffley (Chokeslam) builds this standard thriller as if its being pieced together by an assembly line. No favours are given by screenwriter Susie Moloney and her predictable story. ROMI is a boring movie that presents a tired tale of unreliable, state-of-the-art technology in order to sneak in a ham-fisted moral about accepting responsibilities. However, Moloney does receive props for developing the AI’s traits as a character instead of aiming for low-hanging fruit to satirize. Cuffley’s filmmaking plays it straight as well, but this choice is more of a strike against the movie. Considering the filmmaker is responsible for maintaining the viewer’s interest, Cuffley doesn’t offer enough surprises to keep the movie fresh and resorts to cheap jump scares to stimulate the audience. Had the film lingered longer on these quick visuals, maybe we could’ve appreciated the make-up effects we fleetingly see.
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