Paranoia: 1.0(Velocity Home Entertainment, 1.18.2005)
What can we do when the powers-that-be (some big corporation, the government, hideous creatures -- it's all the same) are controlling what we think and how we act? The answer -- at least in this plot, along with many similar answers in the works of Aronofsky, Cronenberg, Gilliam, Lynch and Orwell -- is not much. We're pretty much damned. Paranoia: 1.0 (wow, great title guys) borrows elements of sci-fi, horror, and noir (among other genres, arguably) to create a Kafka-esque story where sanity and identity deteriorate until there is nothing more than a hollow shell of its former self... and then it gets the top of its head chopped off.
Simon, a paranoid computer programmer living in a retro-futuristic age, finds a brown box in his apartment. He opens the package but there is nothing inside... or is there? Anyway, no harm no foul, so Simon thinks -- until he receives another empty package, again, and again, and again. Soon enough, Simon begins to question his sanity as his hallucinations grow more and more intense, all while he's attempting to complete a top-secret source code for some anonymous bigwigs.
Paranoia: 1.0 is actually a pretty clever film that features some strong and eccentric performances from the likes of Jeremy Sisto, Deborah Unger, Udo Kier, and Lance Henricksen, all of whom are familiar with these genres. The film also has a really nice look to it that, for the most part, keeps the viewer involved in the material. With regard to the film's budgetary constraints, the overall tone and atmosphere is truly inspired, pleasantly paranoid, dreamlike, and unromantic. Alas, there are some slight pacing issues during the second act that slow things down a bit. Perhaps, with about 20 minutes trimmed, this would have made for an incredible short(er) film.
The DVD looks pretty solid: many hues come across nicely and shadows looks superb. We get a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that's pretty good, especially when the cello kicks in during those wide-angle, steady-cam corridor shots. Dialogue can, on occasion, be somewhat quiet and vague. Still, there are several well performed, strange dialects throughout the film that make sense in terms of how the characters are being manipulated (great line delivery: "I drink...Cola 500").
Velocity's DVD comes with several extras, including a 22 minute making-of featurette. This is a rather unique piece, including some hilarious and bizarre performances from the cast and crew, notably Udo Kier. The weirdest part in the making of Paranoia 1.0 is certainly the fact that creators Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson weren't even present during nearly the first half of shooting. Many hadn't even met them in person, having to communicate on the phone and/or through other crew members.
The director's commentary is rather easy to listen to and even quite charming, quite possibly because it's a two-man show and they have good chemistry. The directors discuss the whys and hows of making the film, as well as provide helpful clarification about motivation and plot development. Naturally, they also have a lot of positive feedback for all their performers.
There are also 14 hit-and-miss deleted scenes, one extended sequence, and three unofficial trailers for the film (no official trailer?). Rounding out the DVD are cast and crew bios, as well as a trailer gallery for three other film releases by Velocity. There's no insert.
Overall, this is an enjoyable and visually admirable film that certainly warrants a viewing. This is truly what midnight movie renting was created for. The extras are extensive, enjoyable, and should help flesh out a few ideas that the film provokes. Too bad about that title, though (it was originally just called One Point O). -- Neil Karassik