A decrepit mansion in the middle of the woods. A tight-knit group with a secret. A monster lurking underground.
Luke Scott’s (son of Ridley) sci-fi shocker Morgan may sound like your typical horror film. It’s not.
Risk assessment manager and corporate hack Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) travels to a remote, heavily-fortified enclosure where a group of scientists are perfecting Morgan, a high-functioning artificial intelligence unit brought to life by Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split), that ages like a normal person, albeit at a much faster rate.
Clearly attached to the unit, the isolated group, heralded by head scientist Dr Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh) and Dr Amy Menser (Rose Leslie of Game of Thrones fame) are forced to accommodate Weathers after a sudden outburst by Morgan results in the disfigurement of one of the crew (Jennifer Jason Leigh).
Morgan’s much-hashed AI gone-rogue formula and bottle-horror shocks, typically the rubric of B-movie fare, are enlivened to a great extent by it’s A-list cast featuring Toby Jones and Paul Giamatti, the latter appearing in a brief yet darkly suspenseful sequence. Taylor-Joy, the youngest and most memorable of the large ensemble cast, conversely evokes sympathy and terror in barely distinct beats as Morgan slowly shifts from its largely compelling cerebral sci-fi backbone to more customary, if transfixing slasher gore.
As with so many sci-fis before it, Morgan lives and dies on its ending and not-unsatisfying twist, only as enjoyable as the length of time that elapses before it finally hits you. The keen viewer might cotton on to the sparse clues early in the piece though there is more than enough to keep you guessing throughout, with an oblique reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, among other events, taking on a much greater resonance than mere fan-service as the penultimate events unfold.
Morgan’s ending, which will irk many, for profoundly different reasons, ultimately succeeds by brutally reinforcing the realisation, as the best of sci-fi does, of just how much of the universe, and what we don’t know, is out there.
Morgan is in cinemas from November 17
Morgan screened as part of the Sci-Fi Film Festival