Review: Peripheral (2018)

From director Paul Hyett and writer Dan Schaffer comes the new psychological thriller/horror ‘Peripheral‘. The film has it’s UK premiere today (November 3rd) as part of the FrightFest halloween all-dayer and stars Hannah Arterton, Elliot James Langridge, Rosie Day & Jenny Seagrove.  

“Bobbi Johnson (Arterton), a young literary sensation, is struggling with her
difficult second novel. While dealing with a crazed stalker and a junkie ex-boyfriend, Bobbi’s
publisher convinces her to use new smart editing software. But soon the A.I. programme starts
manipulating her work to suit its nefarious ends leaving Bobbi to suspect she’s being controlled
by sinister forces. Fighting possible hallucinations as her deadline looms, is she just a hapless
cog in a monstrous machine?”

There seems to be a recent renaissance in ‘retro’ yet forward-thinking and technology-filled thrillers such Leigh Whannel’s ‘Upgrade’ and Netflix series ‘Altered Carbon’ and this film is very much in that domain stylistically and in theme.  It plays well as a psychological thriller and a single-room horror. Building on the premise of a writer struggling to complete the followup to their debut novel it also acts as a meditation on the writers process, fame and the interference of technology and corporations on our lives. This plays out metaphorically and subliminally on several levels as the film continues building to it’s apparent climax.

Visually the film starts out drab and claustrophobic however the film-makers don’t stray away from using colour and light to great effect for it’s more abstract sequences. The CGI effects and graphic sequences are used sparingly and are fairly-well accomplished for a film of this scale.

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The film is driven by a wonderful, electro-infused score from Si Begg which creates a lot of the atmosphere here.  Our lead character Bobbi encounters several other characters that become recurring  and affect each others lives while never actually leaving her home (some-what of a trope the single-room horror..) and the performances here are all serviceable and enjoyable. This film does not shine because of any the contributing parts but as a whole it is compelling, creative and timely.

4/5

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