By Don Simpson | January 5, 2015
Director: Bobby Boermans
Writer: Robert Arthur Jansen
Starring: Hannah Hoekstra, Isis Cabolet, Robert de Hoog, Alex Hendrickx, Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen, Patrick Martens, Gigi Ravelli, Harry van Rijthoven, Liza Sips, Jeroen Spitzenberger, Mark van Eeuwen
Anna (Hannah Hoekstra) is a psychology student, thus providing screenwriter Robert Arthur Jansen with a gateway to interject seemingly random René Descartes quotes into the mix. Anna, however, seems less than interested in her field of study, using the excuse that she is much too concerned about her paraplegic brother (Alex Hendrickx) to focus on academics. In reality, Anna is much too easily distracted by social gatherings (she does live in Amsterdam, so who could blame her?) — such as one hosted by a technology geek ex-boyfriend who is intent upon giving her a virus. That virus comes in the form of a smartphone app named IRIS (as you may have guessed by its name, IRIS is basically Siri’s evil twin).
If Bobby Boermans’ App has a moral agenda, it is to speak to modern society’s over reliance on technology, specifically portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. Anna’s smartphone is clearly a distraction for her, inhibiting her ability to pay attention and learn. One might even claim that Anna’s addiction to her smartphone will drastically shorten her lifespan. Sure, IRIS is a highly aggressive virus, but it is Anna’s technology addiction that serves as the true catalyst for the nightmarish events that unfold during App.
Featuring an intriguing premise and execution, not all that dissimilar from William Castle’s cinematic gimmicks, App attempts to integrate smartphone technology with the movie-watching experience, providing a downloadable smartphone app that utilizes sonic technology to display messages, trigger audio cues, and provide other additional content — those without the app will never know any of that subsidiary information existed. The option itself seems to be a psychological experiment. Will people knowingly install an app on their smartphone, when that exact same app plays the sinister villain of the film that they are about to watch? Wouldn’t this essentially be like Stanley Kubrick providing 2001: A Space Odyssey audiences with their very own copy of HAL?