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“Latency” Leaves Much to Be Desired

Written by: Adam Vaughn | June 14th, 2024

Latency (James Croke, 2024) 2½ out of 5 stars

In an ever-evolving technological world, James Croke’s first feature film, Latency, plays with the idea of virtual reality gone awry, exploring the physical and psychological repercussions of letting a machine into your mind and body. The story follows professional gamer Hana (Sasha Luss, Sheroes), an expert in all things videogames who is also a recluse in her grungy apartment. Accompanied only by her best friend, Jen (Alexis Ren, The Enforcer), Hana receives the opportunity of a gamer’s dream: a new AI-based device that promises unlimited neurological abilities. But as Hana becomes more enveloped in the device’s capabilities, she realizes that she may very well be losing sight of her own reality, with ghastly consequences.

Latency certainly delivers a brisk combination of subtle science fiction and horror, initially utilizing the idea of blending technology and the human body to form the perfect “gamer.” There are many repetitions of this concept throughout the film. As with all horror tropes, ghostly presences must come full circle within the plot, and sure enough Croke is able to utilize his narrative to full capacity to unite all of his main points. I also commend the use of a single space to the max, wielding full attention to detail with the production design as Hana’s world starts to twist and turn for the worse.

Sasha Luss in LATENCY ©Lionsgate

Sadly, Latency may be full of high concepts and bright ideas, but narratively it falls short. Too many times the viewer sees the main character tackle what is otherwise a terrible decision, only to have it inevitably come with negative, foreseeable consequences. While interesting, the dark and gloomy tone of the setting seems on the nose, and too obviously foreshadows the spirits and demons to come. Latency’s biggest flaw is that it never deviates from a conventional form of horror storytelling to explore its themes further, and instead aims to please the viewer with familiar clichés. It is an example of a film full of terrific motifs but lacking the execution to bring the audience a fresh perspective.

While Croke’s film may not break any new ground in the genre, it still holds very timely themes as society dives into the incorporation of AI into various aspects of life. The consistent tone of Latency leaves the viewer with a warning that autonomous technology will not always have our back … and may also come with ghosts? Going into this film, I was intrigued at how the science-fiction angle of Croke’s feature would mesh with horror, and after viewing the story in its totality, I was entertained but also let down to see the movie take me on a surreal journey that, while enjoyable, felt like I had been there before.

l-r: Alexis Ren and Sasha Luss in LATENCY ©Lionsgate

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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