Automation is a glorious B-Movie, equipped with a practical robot suit, humorous yet charming special effects, and a wide range of acting abilities. It’s the right amount of cheesy and exaggerated fun with a fantastic usage of its minimal budget - it’s unfortunate that the direction as a whole couldn’t match the concept.
If there's an element of the film that is outstandingly weighing down the quality of the entire feature, it's the direction. Garo Setian's direction is full of close angles, awkward shots, and just an odd way of filming what should have been some really fun scenes. What we are left with is a rather tame film that could have taken the gore effects and kills to a whole other level with some wonderfully crafted practical effects.
Rolfe Kanefsky (Art of the Dead), Matthew L. Schaffer, and director Garo Setian have collaboratively written an undeniably fun script, and one that with a slightly higher production budget and more cohesive direction could have been a B-Movie to reflect back on for ages to come. The downward spiral Auto transcends into when finding himself being replaced is a hypnotic experience to witness, especially when his spiral involves murdering his fellow co-workers. The largest fault Automation suffers from is the fact that the film waits until near the end to start the chaos, and while the build up is fantastic, it feels slightly unfortunate that the robotic violence couldn’t have been more outrageous and deadly.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Automation’s script assists this film greatly; with the mixed quality of performances within, at times the dialogue and actions taken are truly the only redeeming elements of the characters. Our lead Auto played by Jim Tasker easily outshines the rest of the cast, and I immediately raced to IMDB to see if he had been in much else (to my sorrow, he hasn't). You grow to love Auto in such a short amount of time and subconsciously root for him to slaughter the entire office. It doesn't help that a majority of the characters are purposefully unlikeable, apart from our human lead, Jenny (Elissa Dowling). So sit back, relax, and root for the murderous robot.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The sound effects are unbelievably cheesy, but that's what makes Automation so great; it seems to understand that it's cheesy. It never takes itself too seriously, and that's something to love. However, at moments the sound design can be distracting. For instance when the alarms go off it sounds like it was lifted from the most generic alarm noise. Auto's movements, robotic echo, and everything to do with Auto easily brings a smile to my face; it’s the right amount of cheesy for a film like this. The score is a whole other case, as it is all over the place. Joel Christian Goffin has instances of brilliance, however beyond those moments, the score becomes repetitive in nature. Bonus points for creating a song that's repeated throughout the film and is haunting in the right scenario… basically it works well.
I adore the practical effects in Automation. The fact that our lead character Auto is made entirely from a robot suit (costume) and not any identifiable digital effects is immensely satisfying to watch. The film takes place on a rather small scale, with the majority of the film (beyond a scene or two) being locked in an office building with a killer robot inside. The laser effects and occasional blood effects are a nice addition to the relatively tame film, showing hints at what an R-Rated (or Unrated) Automation could have been.
Automation will undoubtedly leave you smiling, with delightful effects and a beyond charming performance by Jim Tasker as Auto. While not entirely a top shelf B-Movie, it retains all the right elements to make it a fun and cheese-tastic journey to the end credits.