Twenty Twenty-Four

Eight years from now, the world is on the brink of nuclear war. It's probably all Donald Trump's fault. In Twenty Twenty-Four, the British government has created a series of secure bunkers to keep all the important people (referred to collectively as Priority One) alive. Until disaster strikes, though, each bunker has just one occupant, a scientist and general handyperson whose job it is to keep everything in working order. When disaster does strike, these caretakers are supposed to slip quietly out the back while all the rich and powerful arrive at the front door. Great way to say "Thanks for all the hard work!", isn't it?

One bunker is called Plethura, which I'm guessing is a play on plethora, as in more than enough. Roy (Andrew Kinsler) lives in this bunker, and he runs it with the help of his computer, Arthur. He monitors all the systems and lets Roy know where the trouble spots are, though they're pretty much all in Section Four. Arthur also tries to be company for Roy despite being, as Roy puts it, only wires and programming. But Arthur has big dreams for a computer and seems to think he's almost human.

Then the announcement comes from Mr. Rand on the surface: the end is imminent and Roy needs to be ready. Except something goes Horribly Wrong, and the bunker is sealed with just Roy inside. With no further word, he and Arthur carry on as best they can, though of course the stress is beginning to tell on Roy. He doesn't really like people -- helpful considering his job -- but the loss of an entire planet full of people is a bit much for even the worst misanthrope. Worse, Arthur detects what seems to be a cry for help from the surface.

And Roy is less and less sure all the time that he really is alone inside Plethura. Locked doors open mysteriously, sensors detect movement where there shouldn't be any, and Roy keeps catching glimpses of something not quite human. Andrew Kinsler does an excellent job of showing Roy's slow unraveling -- he falls apart mentally and physically even as the base itself starts to fail more and more quickly. Arthur does what he can to help Roy -- or is he programmed for something else entirely?

Four and a half out of five. You're left with more questions than answers, but it's a fascinating, compelling watch as the tension slowly rises. Arthur is only words on a screen, but he often feels much more potent and real than that, and Kinsler plays off those words masterfully. The bunker is stark and strange, while the whole film is claustrophobic, unsettling and even exhausting -- I felt a little like I'd been right there with Roy the whole time. It's just like the tagline says -- it's a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from.

Image: 
Arthur asks Roy what's on his mind for the 300th time.

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