EMULATOR * USA 2019 Dir: Michael Jason Allen. 90 mins
It’s 2003, and reformed serial killer Charlie (Kip Rosser) is recruited by Detective Brent Lowe (Rhett Crosby) to help catch his own copycat. And I’ll give it away here because it happens in the first ten minutes, but the copycat is an expertly-styled, early-2000s, nü-metal dude named Jason (writer/director Michael Jason Allen). Inspired by Charlie’s celebrity, he starts killing people to put his name, and his gothy band, on the map.
EMULATOR wants to be a suspenseful, twisty game of cat and mouse—but it fails because there aren’t high enough stakes. Charlie feels too good to be true from the get-go, from his finding religion to becoming a respected doctor and author while still behind bars. It also seems the rules of the world Allen has created exist strictly to give his character Jason every possible advantage. He sprays his victims with chloroform to knock them out—which feels unbelievable. His first kill is a young woman who is left alone by her friend in a dark parking lot—which would never happen. The dialogue is written as if Allen has never spoken to another human being, and the red herrings are confusing more than they are misleading.
The only real bright spot in this flick is Crosby’s performance. He straps in to his role as the bullheaded Detective Lowe who’s willing to do anything to get his man and he commits. We’re barely able to keep up as he races through the city grabbing collars, throwing punches, and chewing scenery.
And as for the final act, there’s some satisfaction in the twist—but unfortunately, it’s not enough to save EMULATOR from itself.
Review by Julia Lynch