Theaters: 27 April 2023
Streaming: 27 April 2023
Runtime: 93 minutes
Genre: Crime – Mystery – Sci-Fi – Thriller
Rotten Tomatoes Critics: 90/100
Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 70/100
Metacritic Metascore: 60/100
Metacritic User Score: 3.8/10 (only 4 ratings)
Awards: Fantasia International Film Festival 2022 — Best International Feature Award
Directed by: Franklin Ritch
Written by: Franklin Ritch
Music by: —
Cast: Tatum Matthews, David Girard, Sinda Nichols, Franklin Ritch, Lance Henriksen
Film Locations: —
Budget: Low Budget
Worldwide Box Office: Limited Release – Unknown
The beginning of the movie finds a computer programmer, Gareth played by Franklin Ritch, being interrogated by government agents questioning his ties to various pedophiles operating around the world. As the scene progresses, we learn that the programmer has created an artificial intelligence program represented by a nine-year-old girl avatar named Cherry. She entices, online, child molesters and pedophiles, learns their identities, and reports them, through Gareth, to the authorities.
The movie is divided into three main scenes progressing linearly in time. The first scene opens with Gareth in his early to mid-twenties. The second scene is 15 years into the future with the same actors aged 15 additional years except Cherry who is still nine years old. The final scene is even further into future where Gareth is an old man played by Lance Henriksen. Cherry hasn’t aged a day.
I found the choice of Henriksen to play Gareth simply sublime. He played a synthetic human named Bishop with a heroic ‘heart’ in the 1986 movie Aliens and the living human Bishop with an evil heart in the 1992 Alien 3 movie.
For a low budget movie everything is done right, almost to perfection. The only quibble is Sinda Nichols’ over the top acting in the opening scenes but that is more of a ding on the screenplay and direction rather than the performance. Tatum Matthew’s acting is very good considering her age. She maintains a slight mechanical inflected voice throughout the movie which seems fitting for a computer-generated delivery.
This movie is worth your investment of 93 minutes not just because it is well done but also there is some thinking to be done. The thinking isn’t heavy. It just comes along for the ride. A few of the same questions addressed in the Alien movies, and others, by Henriksen’s Bishop roles are reprised in The Artifice Girl. Are humans good or evil for creating Cherry? Is Cherry ultimately evil or good? Do humans understand the consequences of AI? Should you do something just because you can?
(Picture above left: Tatum Matthews age 14. Picture above right is Lance Henriksen age 83.)