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Morgan, a horror movie worth a look.

February 10, 2017

WARNING: Light spoilers.


I'm lovingly drawn to science fiction or urban fantasy stories involving humans attempting to create truly sentient lifeforms. Hybrid humans, of a sort. What would it mean to our species and how it would change the Universe as we know it? Where is the line between what is alive and what isn't? Our brains are just amazing biological computing devices, after all. Movies like Morgan energize my secret belief that a soul can develop from sentience and isn't just some ghostly apparition hanging out in Limbo waiting for a body.

First off, I love Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie, and Toby Jones. All have been in some of my favorite movies or shows, and it was good to see this mix of actors together.


The premise of Morgan isn't unlike other movies of this ilk. Species, Ex-Machina, Westworld, Splice, and even Frankenstein are all based on the idea of creating living, breathing, sentient lifeforms that have a somewhat limited range of emotions. We, the viewers with popcorn in hand, watch, knowing this is a hot mess waiting to happen.


The subjects, like Morgan, always have one big flaw, which usually involves wanting to destroy everything around them, or at least escape confinement based on their captor's treatment of them. Or based on the idea that you can't keep something like that locked up forever. Life will find a way, right?


Morgan's captors are torn between their loyalty to Morgan and their duty to the company they work for. They try to be cold and calculating, but they've spent a lot of time with Morgan and have grown to love her. This makes them blind them to the fact that, yes, Morgan has grown up and is wearing her big girl britches.

This is where they forego science fiction and enter the world of urban fantasy. Morgan develops supernatural powers like reading minds, infiltrating computer systems, and snapping bones with seemingly no explanation.


The mystery of it is pretty cool, but one thing always sticks in the back of my mind. Why would you engineer a synthetic being with superhuman strength? It seems you would dial that back a few notches. You know, disable the wi-fi, so to speak. Unless these are all side effects of building of such a being. I'm not a robotics expert.


Involuntary shiver as I imagine those things being created over at Boston Dynamics right now.


At least in Ex-Machina, Ava uses her developing awareness to fool her captors. And in Westworld there's a reason the sentient beings need to be strong and able; they are actors in a larger play. But there's no explanation for it in Morgan, and that's probably where it crosses from science fiction to urban fantasy to straight up horror.


Things get totally out of hand when Morgan is forced to undergo a psych evaluation by an overconfident psychologist. Morgan displays more of her supernatural powers by reading (or super guessing) things about the psychologist which sends the interview off the rails, and Morgan out of control.


I had a creeping suspicion about Kate Mara's character, Lee Weathers, but didn't see the twist until near the end when Lee single-handedly attempts to bring down Morgan in a fistfight reminiscent of a John Wick movie. It's worth watching just for those scenes alone.


By the end, it's a bit of a blood fest. A lot of fun, but not the sci-fi thriller I expected. I'm curious. What are your favorite movies or shows of this type? I Robot? Humans? Where do these movies cross the line from sci-fi to urban fantasy or horror? What are the defining elements?



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