If you like your movies as a cross between “The Twilight Zone” and WAX: THE DISCOVERY OF TELEVISION AMONG THE BEES, then you might enjoy a little piece of sci-fi called HIVE MIND. Ladd Ehlinger Jr. spins a yarn about a world that has been assimilated into a collective consciousness after ingesting the world’s first next-gen cell phone, the “I-Mind”. The last man on Earth is a former war broadcaster and general curmudgeon Doug Trench. Through the course of this film we listen to Doug’s last broadcast from a remote bunker where he riffs about everything from materialism, to politics, all with interspersing moments of loneliness and insanity.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I started to watch HIVE MIND. From the title alone I certainly figured there would be a science fiction element to what I was seeing, so maybe there would be some flashy CGI in place of a dynamic story. Because it was an independent film I may have supposed that the acting might have been a little below what I was seeing in the theaters, and maybe I assumed that when I looked at the cover of the DVD case to see “a collectivist horror film starring you”, I figured there was going to be some trite hook involving social media or something else. The truth is none of those things could be farther from the truth.
Greg Trent’s performance shines as Doug Trench. He truly IS his character in this film. Ladd and he took what is essentially a “one man in a room” piece and turned it into a dynamic movie that hooks you and doesn’t let go. Trent makes you believe he’s been driven half mad from his seclusion. From the way he talks to his listeners (or lack thereof) over the airwaves, to how he relates to his “producer”, an old picture of a buddy of his on a wall that he basically treats as his Wilson (“Castaway” reference…And he does it better than Tom Hanks in my opinion).
The film’s cinematography is really well put together. Rather than relying on tried-and-true sci-fi/horror tricks (the dutch camera angles, the punctuated smash cuts, etc.), Ladd uses fairly traditional camerawork combined with interspersed graphical elements to show how the Hive Mind has intruded not only Doug’s mind, but also how it’s trying to reach OUR minds. Admittedly when I saw the first pop-up message I was a bit taken aback, and quite frankly thought that it was cheesy, but it actually grows on you throughout the movie and becomes less intrusive, and adds to the immersion of Doug’s world.
As far as the social element. The idea that the Hive Mind is everyone, and we are all the Hive Mind is something that Ladd used more subtly than I expected him to. Although breaking conventions and expectations seems to be what Ladd Ehlinger Jr. is good at. Using avatars from social media sites like Twitter, Ladd has basically made a dynamic collage of faces and brands to personify the Hive Mind (yes I’ll admit to looking for my own picture). This is a really effective method to bring the audience into this movie. It brings a bit of reality to the sci-fi story, and honestly it can be a fun little game to spot the people you follow in the myriad images flashing on the screen.
This movie is not what I expected. While it does seem to get a bit preachy (especially from a political standpoint), and does seem to feel a little long at some parts, HIVE MIND is an entertaining look into modern pop culture and the conflicts of a man gone mad in a world of reason and normalcy.
HIVE MIND Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - The last man on earth is Doug Trench, conservative talk show host. Everyone else has been assimilated by Hive Mind, a massive collective consciousness born from implant cell phone technology. Secluded in his broadcast bunker for twenty years, Maha Trenchy decides to fire up his radio transmitter one last time before he is killed, and fight the Hive Mind with half his brain tied behind his back. A prophetic post-apocalyptic view of a world driven mad from political correctness and tyranny, from director Ladd Ehlinger Jr.