A couple uses a self-driving smart car using an AI named A.L to embark on a trip together. Things go awry when A.L informs the couple that he will hit and kill a family of four on the side of the road, unless they consciously choose to switch the direction of the car and hit a convicted felon. With no way out and the clock ticking, the couple must make a decision that will either change their lives or end them.
Young couple Verity (Machelle Noel) and Stewart (Adam Gilmore) use a self-driving smart car to embark on a trip together. The A.I. introduces himself as A.L (Mason Banks) and gives frequent updates on their status. Things go awry when A.L informs the couple that he will hit and kill a family of four on the side of the road in four minutes. Unable to move the steering wheel or escape from the car, Verity and Stewart panic as A.L gives them a second option: they can consciously choose to switch the direction of the car and kill a convicted felon on the opposite side of the road. Faced to choose either a clear conscience and the death of a family or a guilty conscience with the murder of a criminal, Verity desperately suggests that they pull out some of the wires in the car. A.L states that she has discovered a third option, one that will send the car off the road, resulting in their likely deaths. Despite Verity’s conviction that option three is the right choice, Stewart implores her not to do it, saying that killing the criminal to save the family is the right choice. With 27 seconds left on the clock, Stewart insists that Verity think of them and their life together. Verity retorts back that they are over after this. A.L gives them one more chance to make a decision, displaying “Choice #1”, Choice #2”, and “Choice #3” on the screen. Verity announces that she knows what the right decision is. Her finger hovers over the screen as the scene fades the black. A.L’s voice can be heard saying, “very interesting results indeed. Shall we try the next one?”
In this short film Autonomous, the presumably exciting future of self-driving cars takes a dark turn (pun unintended) into a horrific and suspenseful struggle of morality. Young, unassuming couple Verity (Machelle Noel) and Stewart (Adam Gilmore) use a self-driving car with an AI by the name of “A.L” (Mason Banks) to take on a trip together. A.L helpfully updates them at every turn; however, the updates make a drastic change, as A.L informs them that he will hit and kill a family of four on the side of the road, unless they consciously choose to switch the direction of the car and hit a convicted felon. With no way out and the clock ticking, the couple must make a decision that will either change their lives or end them.
The film starts with a clear picture of the couple’s dynamic with one another. Verity is clearly a positive person, excited about the car and the trip they have ahead of them. Stewart seems to be the complete opposite, making negative comments and only worried about the cost of the car and their trip. Both leading actors display these characteristics very clearly, indicating that the couple is already at odds with one another. This is further exasperated when A.L first gives them the choice to either let it hit and kill the family, releasing them from any responsibility, or to intervene and be responsible for the death of a criminal. After realizing that A.L seems to be telling the truth, Stewart immediately starts discussing their options, deciding which choice would be best, while Verity desperately continues to look for a way out, even though there seems to be none. Once Verity discovers the third option, pulling the wires out of the car, sending it off the road, and resulting in their own likely deaths, hers and Stewart’s differentiating moral compasses are made even more clear. Verity believes that option three is the right choice, sacrificing themselves in order to save the other people. Stewart, however, begs her to think about their families and their own lives, stating that option two, killing the criminal, is the right choice. Verity clearly takes the position of heroism, sacrificing her life for the lives of the many, whereas Stewart takes the more logical yet morally detached position, sacrificing the life of on other for the lives of the many.
Autonomous reveals itself as a true psychological thriller, as it slowly increases in speed, using the time clock the couple faces as a way to create real panic for the audience. A.L’s voice is calm and soothing despite the horrors it creates, in order to contrast the panicked demeanors of Verity and Stewart, presenting itself as the one in control. The ending gives off a mysterious feeling, making the audience wonder what choice Verity has made and allowing them to question what they would have chosen as well.
Release Year: 2017
Cast: Machelle Noel, Mason Banks, Adam Gilmore
Director: Mike Jeffs
Run Time: 7:26 minutes
Official Website: www.TheAutonomousMovie.wordpress.com
Social Media Pages:
Vivian Rodriguez | Writing Contributor
B.A | Film Studies | California Baptist University
Hi! My name is Vivian and I am a Film Production major at California Baptist University. I hope to become a director and cinematographer in the future. I enjoy all kinds of movies, from Disney musicals to epic Marvel films to sappy Rom Coms. When I’m not making movies, watching movies, or talking about movies, I spend my days at Disneyland, the beach, or the local froyo shop. I strive to find positivity and creativity everywhere I go! My motto in life is from the book of Romans 12:21, “do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”. Instagram @vivianrcdriguez | View My Projects
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