If science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that playing God is a terrible idea whether you’re splicing dinosaur DNA (a la Jurassic World) or mucking around with artificial intelligence, as in Alex Garland’s forthcoming film Ex Machina. Garland may best be known as the screenwriter on 2012’s Dredd, though he’s penned a few novels (including The Beach, which Danny Boyle turned into a film in 2000) and a handful of other genre movie scripts (28 Days Later) to boot.
In Ex Machina, Garland serves as both scribe and director; it’s his first stint at the helm, and based on the above trailer, it looks like a promising effort. Granted, previously released teasers and clips have already made a pretty good impression, so any promo material that furthers preliminary goodwill is just gravy at this point. But as gravy goes, this preview is really, really strong, filled with tension and suspense and some truly marvelous FX work.
Ex Machina features Star Wars: The Force Awakens bros Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac as Caleb and Nathan; the former is a coder working for the latter, an Internet genius so smart that he makes guys like Larry Page and Bill Gates look like clowns. Holed up in his isolated, sprawling mountainside retreat, Nathan has created a shockingly lifelike female AI named Ava (Seventh Son‘s Alicia Vikander). All he needs is for Caleb to test the depth of her humanity.
Based on the footage above, in particular that dramatic final shot, the whole experiment in Ex Machina goes to pieces in grand fashion. That’s what happens when you spurn scientific ethics and play weird mind games with both man and machine.
Ex Machina comes to us from A24, the same studio responsible for science-fiction mind-benders like last year’s Enemy and Under the Skin; that alone should give us a good idea of what to expect from Garland’s debut as filmmaker (read: something more interesting and unique than your average sci-fi cautionary tale).
Ex Machina arrives in U.S. theaters on April 10th, 2015.