The Brain Hack: Short Film Review
Posted on March 20, 2015
Can a work of art be so precise in design and execution that it can inspire the viewer to see God? This is the question at the centre of The Brain Hack, a short metaphysical thriller from Joseph White (Turn). The goal of filmmaker Harper (Alexander Owen) and computer scientist Fallon (Edward Franklin) is the ultimate fusion of science and religion. It’s an enticing concept and the exposition blends the unsettling aura of Medieval art – angels, demons and tortured souls – with the logical geometry of religious architecture. It’s a sharply edited sequence: rapid-fire images and a ticking clock creating their own symmetry and rhythm.
In a film where God can be reduced to a ‘neurological construct’, a ‘glitch’ in the human brain, there are inevitable repercussions. The short opens on a grainy, frantic hand-held confession foreshadowing events to come. Fallon is stalked by a masked being: the devil perhaps? Or an aggrieved religious sect? White crams a lot into nineteen minutes challenging the morality of organised religion and exploring paranoia. In The Brain Hack, potential plot holes form part of an intentional blurred reality.
The subtle crackling of an analogue recording adds to the eerie mood while giving us succinct character insights, ‘What was it that made me follow Fallon?’ asks Harper, ‘Was it a backlash to my Catholic schooling, the morbidity of faith?’. With a Best Short win at the British Horror Film Festival, this is a slick production. A reflective piano score gradually builds tension with techie motifs. Then there’s the film’s crisp, imaginative visual effects, White’s utilisation of light and shadows and the natural performances from Owen and Franklin. Philosophical with a frenetic pace, The Brain Hack creates its own exciting, mind-bending strand of theology.