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Simon Read [Celluloid 03.03.08] review cyberpunk scifi horror



Year: 1999
Director: Scooter McCrae
Writer: Scooter McCrae
IMDB: link
Trailer: Homepage (down right now)
Amazon: link
Review by: project cyclops
Rating: 4 out of 10

Sixteen Tongues is a sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian and highly sexualised future. It's written and directed by sometimes film-maker Scooter MacRae, best known for his feature debut 'Shatter Dead' which won him the Best Independent Film award at the Fantafestival in 1995.


The plot concerns two female lovers living in a motel room in the near future. Ginny is an assassin, genetically engineered and programmed to receive extreme pleasure when blinking to curb her psychotic impulses, while her girlfriend Alik is a hacker who's searching for the scientist who created Ginny and for the man who killed her brother... So far so cyberpunk, but things get even more brutal when a rogue cop moves into a room down the hall. Adrian is a violent and ruthless man, although considering that he's had sixteen tongues grafted onto him after a near fatal explosion one can see why. Said tongues are sending multiple taste sensations to his brain and it's driving him insane. After a chance meeting by the ice machine Adrian and Ginny form a sort of bond over their respective abnormalities and things progress from there. Over it's 80 minutes the film slowly builds-up tension and ends with a deadly confrontation in the corridors of the Saphio Motel.

The 3.2/10 rating on IMDb.com speaks volumes about the films reception into the mainstream, but there's plenty of fantastic ideas and creative imagery for those who wish to look closer and who aren't put off by micro-budget cinema. Sixteen Tongues is set entirely within the Saphio with no exterior shots whatsoever, no doubt to save money as well as create a look and an atmosphere. The halls are decorated entirely with pornography and the televisions play it on a loop, using your credit card is the only way to shut them off, or indeed to get water, ice, light, etc. The hotel is populated by an appropriately creepy cast of S&M freaks and bums that the main players interact with but ultimately disregard. In short it's a realised world these characters inhabit.

While I'd like very much to praise the vision of the film-maker and to highly recommend this film to anyone interested in apocalyptic film, I really can't. The execution of the film, the sound, the acting, the effects are all lacking. The lighting is bad, actors lines are often mumbled and there's an overall sense of a low budget hampering what could have been a very well done little thriller. The pornography, while an interesting idea and a good visual technique, seems forced and as a lot of other reviews say, you feel more than a little dirty after watching it. The saving grace is probably Ginny, a sympathetic character played surprisingly well by Jane Chase.

However... If you've seen MacRae's previous work and can see past the films technical flaws then you might discover Sixteen Tongues to be real gem, unusual, unsettling, violent and something quite different.

NSFW: Check out some pics at cyberpunkreview

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