Review: Lapsis — Fantasia Festival 2020

Lapsis is screening as part of the 2020 Fantasia Festival program.

The science fiction world of Lapsis is much like our current reality. The major alteration comes in the form of “Quantum” technology, and, as with any technological innovation, some are hesitant to adapt. Such is the case with Ray (Dean Imperial), who finally folds to the pressures for the sake of his ill brother. He purchases a “Quantic 7” computer and takes a job working for a Quantum cabling company, CBLR. Quantum tech is fueled by cables which are manually laid and attached to magnetic cubes.

Ray is given the materials needed to cable through somewhat illicit means, and the previous owner was some sort of high roller. The cryptocurrency the cabling system uses is associated with users through a scanning device, and Ray’s device has excessive amounts of digital currency. For some reason, people stop trusting him when they learn that he has this money, that he is being mysteriously given high-paying cabling routes, that his previous user’s handle was “Lapsis Beeftech.” At the same time, digital devices which cable alongside human cablers, thereby taking work away from them, are causing a quite uproar among the cabling community.

All of this world-building is, apparently, window dressing for a satire about the human impact of technological innovation. There are shades of technophobia and corporate deceit. But it is difficult to follow the thread of this satire through the entirety of Lapsis, as the script is determined to explain and show every facet of this complicated process of cabling. A conversation will lament the top-down oppression of capitalism, or poke fun at human dependence on technology that is only feeding this capitalist machine, but these are just sprinkles on top of a large dish of science fiction shoe leather.

Imperial is enjoyable to watch as the curmudgeonly lead, even if he spends many minutes of the film trudging a cart of cables across the same forest. Madeline Wise, too, is good as a journalist working to expose the darker aspects of the cabling company monopoly. But it is hard to fully engage in these performances when conversations continue on in explanatory fashion, elaborating on the minutiae of these tech companies until it no longer feels like this film is an allegory of present-day tech concerns.

And this is the biggest pitfall of Lapsis. As interesting and idiosyncratic as the world is, it is less fascinating to learn about the world than it is to see how it resembles our own. There are parallels established that make this a very clear satire of our technological existence, yet the film’s plot rarely lends itself to this satire.


Lapsis: B-


As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)

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