Upgrade ★★★★

Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s techno-body horror thriller operates like a mash-up between the corporeal insurrection found in Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983) and the action and revenge of something as sleek as John Wick (2014-2017). Concurrently, a contemporary cautionary subtext pertaining to invasive modern technology—à la Black Mirror (2011-)—barely contains itself beneath the dystopian, though not too unfamiliar, surface. Upgrade has great fun wearing such influences on its sleeve, and while it occasionally lacks a fresh take with a few central concepts, it explores AI paranoia with enough eerie proficiency to subtly conjure existential dread – the robotically spoken opening credits set this into motion superbly. Whannell also gets a lot of mileage with the quasi-chicken and egg scenario which asks whether scientists are going too far or if technology is now running amok by itself; it’s a grey area that Upgrade’s dark conclusion addresses resolutely. Throw in some satisfactorily grisly fight sequences and a streak of pitch-black humour and you have one of the finest genre films for some time – and one of the best of the year so far.

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