Sunday, September 09, 2018

Somnio/Infinity Chamber (2016)

WARNING:  I’m going to give away major details about the movie, including the end.

The movie doesn’t start well for Frank.  He finds himself in a room with no obvious means of exit.  His only company is a voice at the other end of a video camera.  The voice identifies himself as Howard.  Who is Howard?  He’s Frank’s Life Support Operator, in charge of keeping Frank alive during processing.  It takes a while, but Frank realizes that Howard is artificial intelligence.

Frank also comes to realize that no one is going to release him.  He has no idea why he was arrested.  Oh, and there’s a machine in the room that can make Frank relive memories.  The only one he seems to relive, though, is the day he was captured.  Why?  Well, there must be some important information there.

It’s somewhat difficult to give away much more without revealing the whole movie, hence the warning.  Frank does seem to escape.  Twice.  The first time, Frank quickly realizes that it’s an illusion.  The machine is tricking him into thinking he’s escaped.

The second time is more ambiguous.  There are three main theories on this.  One is that Frank really did escape.  Whatever coincidences you might notice are just that.  The second theory is that Frank was tricked into thinking he escaped to give up important information.  The third is that Frank is really his father, lying on the bed.

I’m not sure I buy any of these.  It’s possible that Frank did escape.  The camera used to monitor his cell is probably common enough.  Also, a government would probably buy in bulk, meaning the same camera would be used everywhere.

As for the second possibility, Frank shouldn’t be so trusting of any reality given the first failed attempt.  Then again, it’s possible that he knows and is intentionally misdirecting those that are watching.  He seems to have given away what his captors were looking for, but there’s no way for us to know that the information is accurate.

The third possibility is the weakest to me.  There’s only implication here.  I’m not sure I can totally accept it.  I do think that it’s all in his head, though.  My theory is that Frank was hooked up to a machine.  Much like the original Total Recall, I think that his mind snapped and what we see here is his fractured personality.  My theory is that Frank is really Fletcher, the guy in the next cell.

It kind of makes sense.  Fletcher is the Ego, or identity.  Frank would represent the id, which is the basic stuff like needs and desires.  The AI is the super-ego, which brings rules and order.  Howard imposes rules and tries to make sense of things.  The news reports would indicate that many people died in the prison.  I think that it’s actually it’s sort of like the theory that Frank is the only man except that it’s Fletcher who’s the old man.  He‘s laying on a table somewhere, taking on the identities of various members of the resistance.  Each body that was reported as having been found was a different life that Fletcher lived.

I’m not sure if the details come from Fletcher’s own mind or if they came from the other people having been probed.  Memories could have been transferred to Fletcher’s mind.  Fletcher as Frank may have been the first identity to escape with his mind realizing that the only way to maintain the illusion was to do so somewhere other than the cell.  The key to success was in actually living the person’s life, such as it was.

The biggest clue as to this is when Frank finds the ID number on the computer console and says that it was someone else’s ID number.  He claims mistaken identity.  When Fletcher and Frank talk, it almost seems like they’re the same person.  Fletcher gives Frank advice, but Frank seems to already know.  In any event, the ending is still leaves questions.  Most importantly:  What happens next?

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