A workplace robot, AUTO, transforms into a killing machine when he discovers he will be replaced by a more efficient model. AUTO fears being terminated and will stop at nothing to prevent his own destruction. The human employees must band together to stop him before it’s too late.
There is a distinct possibility this movie is a metaphor for the troubles war veterans have finding purpose in the civilian world as they struggle with PTSD and identity. But let’s face this one as a literal science fiction adventure, just to be safe.
In the not-too distant future, an android named AUTO (voiced by Jim Tasker) automates a lot of the lifting and hauling at what appears to be a shipping company full of fiberglass insulation. He is affable and awkward and the purple-haired, budding musical artist Jenny (Elissa Dowling) takes a liking to him. The have a sort of friendship. She teaches him slang, he keeps her secrets (like working on her music video on company time).
The company is in financial trouble, and it is decided that 90% of the human workers will be laid off, and replaced with androids created by AUTO’s inventor. AUTO believes he will continue doing his job, working alongside Jenny, who is one of 12 people retained, but overhears his creator Alan (Parry Shen) saying that AUTO, too, will be “terminated” — shut down, destroyed — and replaced with more advanced models.
Throughout, AUTO keeps getting flashbacks to a time before he was programmed for the private sector, and was a war machine. The escalating stress and conflicts of the news — and being attacked with a shovel by a disgruntled employee — reactivates his military programming and he seeks to protect Jenny from a perceived assault on the warehouse.
AUTO is a good war machine, and people die.
“This job give me purpose, and I will not allow you to take away my purpose.” — AUTO
From there it becomes a basic sci-fi slasher film, with the baddie roaming the halls quipping and killing while the heroes try to survive.
This movie is silly, warm-hearted, and fun. Scary? Not really. AUTO’s cute face makes it hard to be afraid of him even as his killing spree washes over the warehouse. But that’s okay. And there’s a Christmas party, so technically that makes this a holiday film, right?
It’s all very lo-tech effects for 2019, but would have blown us away when I was a kid. It’s a little Terminator, a little Wall-E, maybe a little District 9, but with the fun, low-budget, friends-making-a-film pleasure of something like its near-namesake, Otto; or Up With Dead People. It won’t be a classic, and it’s not likely to be a franchise, but it’s good fun for a winter’s afternoon with friends.
This is Garo Setian‘s first feature film. I think we’d be wise to watch out for his next.
Scix has been a news anchor, a DJ, a vaudeville producer, a monster trainer, and a magician. Lucky for HorrorBuzz, Scix also reviews horror movies. Particularly fond of B-movies, camp, bizarre, or cult films, and films with LGBT content.