We recently reviewed the short Baby Mine from director Nour Wazzi. Now she’s back with Lab Rat, another short that looks at our perception of people and situations. Only this time it goes beyond the bounds of race or religion, to the definition of human.
Opening with external shots of an ominous-looking building backed by an urgent-sounding synth score, Lab Rat quickly moves indoors. Alika (Kirsty Sturgess) is making out with her boyfriend Johnny (Matt Harris) in an empty lab. At least she is until she gets paged to Edward’s (Abeo Jackson) office. It seems not only is Edwards her mother, but she’s also in charge of this facility. And she has an announcement.
One of the team isn’t human, they’re an incredibly advanced AI developed by the company. For a final test they need to see if they can determine who it is. No one will be allowed to leave until they do.
We watch Edwards and Alika as they watch Johnny, Marvin (Max Williams) and Ellie (Sian Hill). Edwards wants to see if her daughter can figure it out before the others do. But the question is the same for her as it is for the three “lab rats”. What characteristics are intrinsically human? What about us can a computer not mimic?
Wazzi and co-writer Matt Brothers do a nice job of setting the situation up and letting it unfold. As tensions rise, the situation becomes violent. They also smartly raise the possibility that the AI might not be who we’re supposed to think it is.
Lab Rat is also an indictment of corporate science and anything for a profit mentality. The fact that this test could get somebody killed or emotionally scarred is irrelevant. As is the rather questionable nature of the purpose for which the AI is being developed.
film that packs a lot into just fifteen minutes, Lab Rat is available on Gunpowder & Sky’s Dust YouTube Channel.