top of page



average rating is 2 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Apr 11, 2023

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Paul Trigwell
Written by:
Paul Trigwell
Tom Clear

It is to Neraka’s considerable benefit that it releases during a time when the news cycle is filled with stories covering the disturbing possibilities that come with the rise of artificial intelligence. But whilst the film’s titular app takes much more directly malevolent action that ChatGPT’s impersonations of political figures, the film’s poorly-defined plot and empty consideration of its ultra-relevant subject mean this short B-movie fails to live up to its potential.


Al (Tom Clear) is a loner spending an evening mindlessly testing out a new AI-powered assistant app called Neraka. He trials its capabilities by asking a series of questions, but once he realises the answers are becoming increasingly personal, he decides to delete the app. But before he gets the chance, its sinister and unexpected true nature reveals itself.


Neraka is a film of squandered potential. What starts out as an intriguing if pre-explored concept results in a voiceless, aimless horror that is nowhere near scary enough to justify the introduction of needless supernatural elements that only negate from the story. The film’s diversion around its midpoint from focusing on AI to an undefined but apparently spiritual adversary dilutes the threat that had been established from early on, and leaves audiences wondering quite what the whole point of the story is or what they are supposed to be afraid of.


The issues with this shift are also exacerbated by the unlikability of the protagonist. Tom Clear gives a sleazy turn as Al, a leather-clad grizzly type who takes sad pleasure in messing with what he assumes is a computer programme. This is no issue when the film’s focus appears to be on the dangers posed by AI – as viewers are engaged with the central question of whether unthinking lines of code should super-cede the rights of those with free will – even when said persons are of an odious nature. Once the app’s true nature is revealed, audience’s concerns have to be supplanted to Al’s fate. And given the lack of empathy for the character and his unpleasant presentation, viewers will not have any great sense of regret over the prospect of his loss.


The film happily embraces its B-movie status and director/writer Paul Trigwell and star Tom Clear take clear enjoyment in playing up the more classic horror elements – including an unsubtle nod to Steven King’s thematically aligned Christine. This embrace means the awful visual effects do not degrade from the film too much as the film’s boldness around its (lack of) budget is established pretty quickly – though one wonders just what model of smart phone Al has given one tap seems to input whatever command he so wishes at any given moment.


But the film’s ultimate sin is that it never really establishes what it is meant to be about. It is lost somewhere between offering a warning of the dangers of sentience for programmes that are more calculating than compassionate, and a more fantastical story of a sinister force overtaking technology we don’t fully understand. And in this purgatory, the film ends without really establishing its point. Perhaps its script should have been run through ChatGPT for a little more consistency…

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film
bottom of page