If the recent WGA strike, which essentially boils down to replacing the human touch with that of a machine for creative output, is any indication, we are officially in the dark age of technological advancement. AI, most specifically, ChatGPT, has officially taken the world by storm, and there’s no going back. This only makes the threat created by AI and movies like ‘Project Dorothy,’ which take such premises up and turn them into a tech-horror nightmare, much more relevant. It’s another thing that sometimes these movies feel like they could actually use AI to better themselves. 

Essentially a chamber piece that takes place almost entirely in an abandoned facility, director George Henry Horton’s film follows two bank robbers – the much older James (Tim DeZarn) and the young Blake (Adam Budron), who, after a botched-up job are fleeing the police. They have broken into a safe deposit box and stolen a laptop that they have to deliver to their client. However, James has been shot and is bleeding out as his wound gets worse.

They find their way to the abandoned facility when they get cornered by an on-pursuit police vehicle that loses track of them when they enter it. Initially, they try to just stay low and rest it out, but something sinister resides inside that their interference has brought back to life. The scientists conducting experiments with the AI known as “Dorothy” realized its immense potential and subsequently shut it down in the 90s. However, after the two of them entered the facility, they unknowingly woke it up, and its newfound desire revolves around obtaining “the internet.”

A still from Project Dorothy (2023).
A still from Project Dorothy (2023).

Now, for what it’s worth, Project Dorothy has a really intelligent voice work by Danielle Harris. The actor uses her cheeky remarks and robotic outtakes to make Dorothy’s malevolent wishes feel palpable. However, it’s extremely sad that that’s the only thing that works in the movie. The setup, which includes bank robbers fleeing on foot to a facility in some farmland and a tech facility that isn’t even remotely tweaked to not feel like a factory, just spews lazy filmmaking. 

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To add to that, at least half of the runtime is spent on making forklifts; you heard it correctly, ‘forklifts’ feel like beastly entities that can kill people. There are repetitive tracking shots coupled with the sound of beasts screaming as the forklifts are in pursuit of getting James and Blake.

While there’s a chance some people might find that innovative, I just found it laughable. The fact that the screenplay by George Henry Horton and Ryan Scaringe runs so thin that it is neither able to capitalize on the conflict it wants to create nor make its emotional stake feel real is another one of its issues, resulting in a product that is just a loud and abrasive attempt at creating an evil AI picture. 

Read More: Mad Heidi (2023) Movie Review: The Grindhouse adaptation of Heidi is campy and cheesy fun, but it takes a while to get going

Project Dorothy (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Project Dorothy (2023) Movie Cast: Danielle Harris, Adam Budron, Tim DeZarn, Emily Rafala, Olivia Scott
Genre: Mystery & Thriller, Sci-fi
Original Language: English
Director: George Henry Horton
Writer: George Henry Horton, Ryan Scaringe
Runtime: 1h 20m

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