LATENCY Review: An Agoraphobic Gamer, If You Can Believe That

Contributing Writer; Montreal
LATENCY Review: An Agoraphobic Gamer, If You Can Believe That

Written and directed by James Croke, Latency is about an agoraphobic gamer trying a new technological device that reads one's brain. As the film progresses, the device does more than that.

Said gamer is Hana, played by Sasha Luss. Hana is a so-called "has been" who glimpses a chance to win back glory, and also money, through a gaming tournament. The new device, which sits in the back of her head, improves her reaction time, and allows her to type or play without even touching the keyboard or screen. The calibrating scenes, essentially a training montage, are fun, and there is a promising one titled "pain". It promised too much; Hana only had to cut herself a little.

Similarly, the tournament is disappointing as the viewer neither sees or feels the stakes, with only Hana's playing shown on screen. The film is more about how this mysterious device impacts her to the point of infesting her brain with disturbing images and jumpscares; mainly, those of a child. Hana begins to lose her mind. The cut on her arm worsens.

The only other character is her friend Jen (Alexis Ren), an extremely friendly neighbour, in that she often cooks for Hana, buys groceries, and takes out the trash, and unfriendly in that she is the one who calls Hana a "has been" and can be quite rude. They both can.

Why are these people friends? It's not an interesting meanness. The script feels forced and their dialogue interactions unnatural. When Hana pulls out a picture of her father and says "hi, dad," I pressed pause and got a coffee.

It is revealed that Hana's mother was agoraphobic, so as a child Hana grew up with not much else to do but play games like Tetris. As an orphaned adult, she drinks Red Bulls. She is not a gamer stereotype, though, because she also works out, and is strikingly beautiful.

Perhaps you saw Sasha Luss on the cover of Vogue with a straw and a Coca Cola? Or maybe you spent ten minutes doing Alexis Ren's ab workout? "Star" is the correct verb here for these actresses.

The decision to cast two well-known models is a bold one. It could pay off, but in Latency, it is hard to forget who the actresses are, especially when they look Instagrammable in moments of sheer panic and horror.

Since the film does not have any other characters, it is easy to become saturated with the sight of them, always in the same dimly-lit apartment, their prettiness cold, clinical, and inviting almost an impossible suspension of disbelief. It's a strange casting choice for a film about an agoraphobic gamer. It feels like a commercial.

Overall, Latency lacks tension. The sound is doing most of the lifting, with a screeching noise that made me lower the volume of my laptop quite often, only adding to Hana's distress.

The film opens Friday, June 14, in select movie theaters via Lionsgate.

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Alexis RenJames CrokeLionsgateSasha Luss

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