Tuesday 3 July 2018

Dark Film Review – Tau

Dark Film Review – Tau

Review by Casey Douglass

Tau Film Review

Smart speakers and other devices are infesting our homes, giving us the impression that we are even more the masters of our domain than usual. Skynet. Sorry, I just wanted to get that out of the way now. While idly browsing Netflix UK the other day, I saw a new film had been added, one that taps into these notions of meat-based master and techno-servents: Tau.

The main character Julia (Maika Monroe) is abducted from her apartment, fitted with a strange glowing implant in the back of her neck, and thrown into a cell with two other unfortunates. She’s a crafty one though, and soon finds a way to set them all free. Then she meets the titular Tau (Gary Oldman), the artificial intelligence that runs and protects the house that she finds herself in, and things go wrong once again. This house belongs to Alex (Ed Skrein), some kind of tech-entrepreneur who doesn’t let notions of morality get in the way of his research. Julia now has to try to outfox both Alex and Tau, or she will never see the world again.

Tau is a film that spends a lot of its time in one location. At the beginning, we briefly see Julia in dance-clubs and her apartment, but the main bulk of the film is her being trapped in the grey walls of Alex’s bunker-like technology-infused home. I do tend to enjoy films that are set this way as I find that it builds an interesting tension, and also allows the viewer time to get to know one location very well. So this was a positive as far as I was concerned.

Alex comes and goes from the house, going about his daily schedule. This gives Julia time to talk to Tau. It is these conversations that really pique the interest. She begins with getting Tau to understand that she has a name, and things soon flow to the trading of information and mutual education. She wants to know what's behind x door and up y stairs. Tau wants to hear more about the things she knows about. Tau himself is a glowing red triangle that shimmers and fluctuates on the wall, but he can also control a fleet of cute drones and a murderous death-bot. These variations on his embodiment, or lack thereof, certainly add more interest to the film than if he was purely wall-locked.

Maika Monroe is great as Julia. She’s an actress I’ve enjoyed watching since I first saw her in It Follows and The Guest. As Julia, she has to be smart and physical, often knocked around, hurt and apparently subdued, but always eyeing the next opportunity to make a break for it. It’s interesting to see how her relationship with Tau develops, and this even serves to shine a light on Alex and his own apparent areas of lack. There is food for thought about how many different kinds of “prison” exist, to say the least. And of course, with any A.I film there are feelings of 2001 about it at times, but Gary Oldman voices Tau in a fine manner.

Tau was an enjoyable watch and I found the 90 or so minute runtime passed very nicely. I did feel some of the CGI looked a little second rate however, particularly the murder-bot at times. It was decent enough, but there were moments when it didn’t really “sit” in the environment that well. I did enjoy the animations of “Wall Tau” however, and the drones were good fun. 

If you like escape-based films with a splattering of technology and blood, Tau is well worth checking out on Netflix now.

Rating: 4.5/5