Latency

Latency doesn’t know what story it wants to tell, so it tries to tell multiple stories simultaneously. At the center of the film is Hana (Sasha Luss), an agoraphobic professional gamer. She lives in a filthy, rundown apartment, yet can somehow afford all kinds of high-tech equipment. When her sole friend Jen (Alexis Ren) comes over, Hana opens the newest product she gets to test – a weird little gizmo that looks like a Fitbit for your head and claims to be able to read the mind of its wearer.

There’s potential in that concept for a story about the dangers of advancing AI technology. Instead of sticking with that, Latency starts going in multiple directions at once. Hana becomes determined to win an online gaming competition through use of the device. Jen tries to win money by betting on Hana in that competition. A strange little girl lurks around in the hallway. Hana begins seeing a ghostly apparition. Her fear of going outside factors in prominently, too.

These elements compete for screen time, leading to a narrative that has a choppy flow and is often more confusing than it needs to be. Writer/director James Croke has lots of ideas. What he lacks is an ability to assemble those ideas in a way that makes sense. Latency is presumably trying to infer that the device unlocks trauma buried inside Hana’s brain. To accomplish that, the film would require a plot that follows clear logic, allowing us to understand what, specifically, the technology is doing to the character. The explanation at the beginning is hazy, and it all goes downhill from there.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the movie’s use of agoraphobia to build tension is pretty good. A sequence where Hana makes a delivery man wait down the hall while she nervously signs for a package is tense, as is a later scene requiring her to step outside her door. Sasha Luss (Sheroes) is no Meryl Streep, but she does effectively convey this young woman’s terror at venturing beyond the walls of her apartment. We can feel that Hana is safest inside, surrounded by the televisions and computers that let her avoid the world.

Occasionally, bad movies have a seed of promise in them. This is Latency’s seed. A gripping thriller could definitely be built around the notion of groundbreaking tech turning an agoraphobic’s safe space into a living hell. The film has no idea how to connect those dots, though, causing it to quickly become muddled to the point where you no longer care about any of it.


out of four

Latency is rated PG-13 for language and some violent content. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Universal

© 2024 Mike McGranaghan