Emulator is the latest film from writer/director/actor Michael Jason Allen (An Idle Mind Is the Devil’s Playground). It’s another serial killer film, though unlike Artik and Bloodline it aims more at the thriller genre than horror.
Charlie Sorland (Kip Rosser) was a serial killer. After 50 years in prison and rehabilitating himself he’s granted parole at age 70. Shortly after people start turning up dead, killed in the same manner as Charlie’s victims. But it isn’t Charlie doing it.
We know that because we also know who’s responsible. Jason Lutra (Michael Jason Allen) an aspiring musician has developed a very unhealthy interest in Charlie’s previous activities. Acting on a tip Detective Lowe (Rhett Ashley Crosby) starts investigating Jason, but he’ll need Charlie’s help to get inside his mind and prove his guilt.
Emulator is a cat and mouse thriller as the two adversaries clash and taunt each other. The difference between this film and so many others is having Charlie as a kind of wild card. Can he be helpful in finding a killer in a world that’s changed so much while he was in prison? Might he have his own interests in the outcome of the investigation?
Playing this angle gives Emulator a bit more edge than most low budget thrillers. It also lets it pull some nice twists in the final act. Nothing game-changing, but enough to keep you watching. Which is more than I can say for a lot of these films.
The music in Emulator is a pleasant surprise. We first see Jason wearing a Front 242 shirt. But rather than being industrial, the music has a more 80s synth/goth feel which made me nostalgic for my club days. And it’s a nice change from the usual killer who listens to heavy metal stereotype.
There are is some clunky dialogue and a few sketchy performances. That, however, comes with the territory. Overall Emulator is a watchable, no-frills thriller that will catch you off guard a time or two.