Romi 2023

Romi is a 2023 Canadian sci-fi horror, written by Susie Moloney, and directed by Robert Cuffley. Susie is most notable as a writer on the TV shows Blackstone (2015), and Fear Thy Neighbor (2016), as well as on the feature-length film Bright Hill Road (2020). Robert is known for directing features such as Eyes for You (1996), Turning Paige (2001), and Ferocious (2013) to name a few. The film is based on the 2019 short film of the same name, written and directed by the duo.

After experiencing a traffic accident and fleeing the scene, Maddie is sent to a state-of-the-art smart house to lie low by her mother who holds a position in politics. However, after arriving, the house’s fully operational A.I. system called Romi begins to terrorise Maddie over her past misdeeds.

 

One of Romi‘s strengths lies in its ability to blend traditional horror elements with cutting-edge science fiction concepts. Whilst the film hardly explores new territory, following the same beaten path explored in other films, it certainly incorporates a more realistic, down-to-earth setting due to the significant advancements in AI tech. Additionally, the film enforces strong undertones of isolation and loneliness, with Maddie’s already strained relationship with her mother pushing her further into realms of seclusion. With Romi being the only real company Maddie has during her stay when even her AI companion begins to become more distant, this despondency certainly becomes palpable.

Whilst the cinematography in Romi is entirely serviceable throughout, doing an exceptional job at visually presenting this high-tech domicile as barren and desolate, it scarcely delivers anything out of the ordinary in its framing. However, where the film does stand out is its subtle influence of colour throughout the film. Featuring a mostly washed-out colour scheme, the implementation of coloured lighting and post-production tinting produce an adroit influence over a scene’s tone.

 

Being driven forward with some fantastic performances from Romi’s two main protagonists, Maddie and Barkley, played by Alexa Barajas and Jaun Reidinger respectively. Being centre stage throughout the film, the pair deliver a purposely awkward chemistry between each other that only seems to grow as the film progresses.

Diligently paced and featuring some great performances, Romi delivers an incredibly grounded science fiction tale of a ghost in the machine. However, with a twist ending that was fairly obvious early on, the film fails at divulging its story with the shock value intended. Whilst the film certainly has its moments of style, this isn’t enough to create a memorable piece of cinema and is likely to be forgotten.

 

We Watched Romi (2023) at Blood in the Snow Film Festival 2023

 

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