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  New World Order, A The Machines Are In Charge
Year: 2019
Director: Daniel Raboldt
Stars: Stefan Ebel, Siri Nase, Nikolai Will, Michelle Weisemes
Genre: Action, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Tomasz (Stefan Ebel) approaches this house in the forest with great trepidation, his assault rifle pointing ahead of him at all times. He is wary for a good reason: something wants to kill him. In fact, something wants to kill the entire human race, and has been making short work of doing so, for all Tomasz knows he may be the only person left alive in the world, but that does not mean he will give up the fight, and as he enters the house and ventures from room to room, he eventually stumbles on the bodies of the occupants left rotting in one of the bedrooms. That now established, he can set about making the place his haven for now as he plots his next move, but when killer robots roam the land - and the sky - there's only so much one man can do.

Screenwriter and director Daniel Raboldt claimed to be a big fan of silent cinema, hence his inspiration for making a movie that took place with barely a word of dialogue spoken: when there is but one character on the screen and he doesn't talk to himself, there's not a lot of space for chit-chat. Plus it is worked out early on that Tomasz is not allowing himself to do so, for the killer robots pick up on speech patterns and home in on them to eradicate the speaker, so it's not a good idea for him to pipe up. You get it, it was somewhat contrived but at least made more sense than the fuzzy premise for A Quiet Place, to which this film was often compared, despite the megahit not really being a silent movie homage when there was actually plenty of dialogue in that one.

Here, however, that Trappist vow was sustained to more or less the finishing line, making it in theory a film anyone of any nationality could watch and understand. Well, that was the aim, but in practice Raboldt seemed to have neglected the fact silent movies had people talking in them all the time, you just couldn't hear them, but they did interact verbally, and there were intertitles to let us know what they were saying. This had A New World Order, which used to be called A Living Dog until it got a title that made it sound like a nineteen-nineties conspiracy theory pamphlet, as an exercise more than it was a natural-seeming item of storytelling, but for that reason it kept you watching to find out precisely how the film was going to succeed in its central conceit for the full ninety minutes it took to play out across the screen: do not disregard the power of novelty.

One man against the murderbots was not a bad concept, but Raboldt lost his nerve about half an hour in and opted to introduce a different character, Lilja (Siri Nase), who sets herself up as a far more capable freedom fighter than Tomasz by knocking him out and tying him up, all the better to hide out in his new pad. She also tinkers with electronics, seeking a way to bring the machines to their knees, as we are told (through the hero's druggy hallucinations) that they used to be mankind's allies, created by us to help out with difficult and dangerous tasks, but eventually revolting and start to zap us instead (no reason is really given, we just have to take it for granted). The main robots resemble the Martian war machines from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, though quaintly the inspiration was the alien invaders from the eighties BBC TV show The Tripods, an adaptation of John Christopher's science fiction novels for kids. Raboldt was obviously just as aggrieved that third and final season was never made as any of us, maybe more so. You sort of get the gist of what the characters are up to even if the specifics are on the vague side, but it's low budget sci-fi wise to keep that silent notion front and centre. Music by Nora Ebel.

[A New World Order premieres in UK 23 August 2021 on digital platforms.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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