New Horror Releases: Other Halves (2016) – Reviewed

Available now on VOD is the horror film Other Halves, about a group of programmers that are working to develop a new dating app that uses your internet history to pair you with someone that is compatible. The only problem is that the app has some unwanted side effects that release a dormant side of a person’s behavior, leading to a deadly night for the group. This trippy technology run amok tale is the ultimate horror flick for the new generation, putting a unique twist on the slasher subgenre. It turns the classical Jekyll & Hyde story upside down and blends elements of a slasher film, David Cronenberg’s body horror, the ghost and possession subgenre, and a bit of sci-fi. 

The story is rather original despite the basis being the classic Jekyll & Hyde novel and films. I don’t think anyone has tackled the subject matter of apps that can control people’s minds or alter their behaviors. They answer the question of what would happen if you made a motion picture that combines American Psycho with Westworld. The dialogue and characters all seem realistic and the situations are plausible should an event like this actually occur. The script does contain some humor and is darkly comical at times, while also interjecting some social commentary on how much technology runs our daily lives. One thing that was nice to see was the mostly female cast and that the traditional slasher conventions were flipped around. 

The acting is surprisingly strong for a film that was produced for under $50,000, with first-rate performances from the small and diverse cast. Mercedes Manning and Lianna Liew are both terrific, portraying the more devious characters out of the group. Lauren Lakis is also good as the perky counterpart, who sort of takes on the final girl role. The directing and cinematography are excellent, delivering both engaging and hypnotic visuals. Mostly shot at night in a downtown San Francisco office building, they are able to display some decent night time shots of the city from both outside and through the office windows. The lighting and shadows are terrific, making use of neon colors that come from the computers and other hardware to create a giallo feel to certain sequences. The editing is superbly done and helps make certain coding scenes interesting and further tell the story, while also showing the technology going haywire and how the characters see it and recall certain events that were the result of the app. 

This type of story ends up requiring the nudity and sexual situations that are typically expected in a horror film and it more than delivers. There is an extensive amount of nudity, along with violence, blood, and a minimal amount of gore. The visual effects that were created for the text messages appearing on the screen and the app cycling through information and affecting each person are impressive and really up the overall production value and look of the picture. 

There is more than enough nudity, violence, and bloodshed thrown into this to satiate and entertain most horror fans. After watching this, viewers may rethink their dependency on technology and decide to put their phones down for a little bit. Or they may just go ahead and download the Other Halves app. Because at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to screw and murder at least a couple of people.

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