31 Days of Reviews: Listening (2014)

A group of grad students manages to create a computer program that has the ability to read human thoughts, technological telepathy. Some things are best left alone.

I will definitely begin this review by saying that while the plot of this movie could have gone in a horror themed direction, Listening stays on the side of science fiction. For this reason, this review strays away from my norm for 31 Days of Reviews.

Listening is a 2014 science fiction film, directed by Khalil Sullins. It stars mainly unknown actors, and it covers a story that has been looked at before. Many of the themes included in Listening have been explored in movies about artificial intelligence, government conspiracy, and the human experience.

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Within this particular movie, a couple of broke grad students succeed in creating a computer program that can read human thoughts, and it can transmit thoughts from person to person. This catches the attention of a research facility that has created a software program to create thoughts in a person’s mind.

That all seems well and good for the most part. The movie has some interesting moments that explore the power of human thought. Is there a dissonance between genuine thought and computer generated thought? Should we really be listening to the thoughts of others? Would the government jump on the ability to implant thoughts? What harm can potentially come from that sort of technology?

Unfortunately, Listening is bogged down by wooden acting and forced dialogue. I found it really difficult to make it through the duration of the movie. On top of that, there are some really funky filters that change periodically throughout. At first, I thought it had something to do with the characters, but in the end I gave up on trying to explain it. The filters are definitely a distraction.

In terms of being terrifying, Listening definitely does that through the idea of what could potentially happen. The idea of implanted ideas on a broad scale is realistically scary. That’s not really the movie’s goal though. The movie is looking to explore possibilities. It delves into the government conspiracy of it all in a bit of an X-Files way. It doesn’t hold a lot of lasting effect. I wish it did.

While Listening has some interesting moments and details, the overall movie seems cheap. It reminded me of something I would see as a TV movie, rather than an independent feature. I’m surprised that I made it through the whole thing, and I definitely wouldn’t force it on anyone else.

It sits at about an hour and 40 minutes, so it feels long at a lot of points. The filters are too weird for me, and the dialogue is especially odd at times. At other moments it seems to try to go too artsy for its own good.

If you’re in the mood for something along the lines of science fiction, then you might want to watch this one. Just know, I wouldn’t recommend it.

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