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Uncanny 2015



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Deception by design.

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About the Uncanny 💬


In 1997 IBM's chess-playing computer Deep Blue beat reigning chess champ, Gary Kasparov. In 2011 IBM was at it again when its artificially intelligent computer system, Watson, participated in the game show Jeopardy and defeated its two greatest champions, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.

A.I. has intrigued the world since John McCarthy coined the term in 1955, though the idea of artificial beings dates back as early as Greek mythology. But as Joy Andrews says to Adam Kressen in UNCANNY, ''We are (now) in the middle of an exponential tech explosion.''

Futurist Ray Kurzweil foresees this explosion leading to a day in the near future when humanity will reach what is referred to as The Singularity. An era that he says ''will allow us to transcend the limitations of our biological bodies and brains.'' A time that he suggests is only a decade away, where computers will develop a ''consciousness.'' And while Kurzweil thinks this will have positive repercussions for mankind, others do not share his rosy outlook.

Elon Musk, the visionary force behind Tesla and SpaceX famously tweeted on August 3, 2014, that ''We need to be super careful with AI. Potentially more dangerous than nukes.'' So what could happen that could be so bad at the dawn of this era? It is not hard to imagine that these ''super intelligent'' entities will look at humans, with all of our unpredictability, and violent tendencies, as something dangerous to their very existence - not dissimilar to the way humans might look at a super-virus that needs to be eradicated. Of course, it could be worse. Nick Bostrom, philosopher and founding director of The Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, has hypothesized that with the exponential growth of computing power, a digital simulation of our entire universe has possibly already been created, meaning that we all could be currently living in a Matrix-style computer simulation.


The Uncanny Valley

Robotics professor Masahiro Mori coined the term The Uncanny Valley to explain his theory, which holds that when human features look and move almost, but not exactly, like real human beings, it causes a response of revulsion among some human observers. The ''valley'' refers to the dip in a graph of the comfort level of humans as subjects move toward a healthy, natural human likeness described in a function of a subject's aesthetic acceptability.



I love the final chess match between Adam and David where Adam is changing the primary objective of chess to be capturing the queen. There is so much subtext going on between the two of them and the tension is starting to peak. The ticking of the timer, the angle looking just slightly up at Adam as he starts to become more menacing - and then Joy just pops in with a big smile on her face to interrupt a conversation that feels like it's about to explode. That is one of the scenes that I feel everyone just nailed. It's perfectly written. We had the time to get it right and it really shows. I also really like the scene between Joy and David in the lab with her talking about how amazing Adam is. The intercutting with Adam playing ping-pong and Craig Richey's score just works so well. That score was all Craig's too. It really was nothing like what I had in the temp track or what I heard in my head but he just understood exactly what was needed there.


It's really pretty simple actually. At its core, it's a story that questions what it means to be ''human.'' Of course, the complexities of that question reveal that it's not really a single question but more of a multi-part. What is unique to humanity now? What will be unique to humanity in the future? Can science provide the answer? And, as we move closer to the ''singularity'' one has to wonder if this will give new meaning to the question altogether. Also, I hope that it brings up ideas of evolution. Is this technological advancement that we are experiencing the next step in evolution? Since we have basically become, at a biological level, evolutionarily stagnant, is this technological advancement really just the next step in human evolution? And if that is true then how will our biological selves merge with our new technological selves? I think in our film, Rainn Wilson's character feels more like Kurzweil in this sense. That this merging is a good thing. That there is a real possibility of human immortality in the next few decades if we keep pushing to find the answers. I'm also curious, as this film finds its audience, how older and younger people's feeling will differ about it. My sense is that younger people are less scared of tech. They like being wired and using tech to help them accomplish so much. To be the best, most effective person they can be. Older people are more hesitant, skeptical to give over tasks that they have done for their entire lives to a machine.

The characters in our film are all interested in pushing tech to its limits. I don’t think any of them thinks that it's science's place to question the morality or the dangers of where it is trying to get us to. That's for someone else to worry about. To legislate. Adam, David, and even Joy are pretty hardcore. Constantly in pursuit of empirical truth without concern for the consequences. Of course, at the end of their journey, there might be some regret. Some concern about where this might be headed. I mean, even if all these technological advancements can be considered the next step in our evolution, we have to remember that evolution will always have anomalies and that bad things can grow from it.

I think it's really interesting to deal with issues like these that are so enormous in a film that is as intimate as UNCANNY. Essentially three people in one space. The movie is obviously dialog heavy and that was always the challenge for us. I knew it would hold a viewer's attention simply because it was smart but how do we make it cinematic? Keep a tension that hovers above the words being spoken? That is definitely where the collaboration comes in. That's what is so unique about the film as a creative expression. For it to be fully realized all of these moving parts, cinematography, performance, music, wardrobe, fx, they all need to work harmoniously.

UNCANNY is this seemingly still film but it's actually methodically reeling in the audience before everything sort of falls off the cliff in the 3rd act. You know something is going to go down from the first minute Joy shows up but you just don't have any idea what it is. That's really what I liked so much about the script.

Uncanny Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Matthew Leutwyler

Writing Credits

Shahin Chandrasoma


Mark Webber

David Clayton Rogers

Lucy Griffiths

Rainn Wilson

Music by

Craig Richey

Cinematography by

Ross Richardson

Genres: Drama, Sci-Fi (Science Fiction), Thriller

Country: United States

Uncanny Official Trailer

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