CIFF 41 Film Review

Domain

                                                                                                            www.clevelandfilm.org
Morgan Minch

April 2, 2017


​Domain is this crazy sort of study. A deadly strain of influenza stretches the earth and could wipe out civilization, according to a public broadcast. The World Health Organization has developed bunkers with self-sustaining technologies for 500,000 lottery winners.
 
The "domains," as they’re called, look more like spaceships than apocalypse bunkers. Minimalist with muted colors, right out of a 70s interior decorating magazine, they are 30 feet underground and locked shut. Equipped with powder to make nutrient shakes for 70 years and a contained liquid filtration system, the isolated survivors have all they need to pass the time as the world fights the virus above.
 
Inhabitants make their own energy with a single rowing machine, powering the domain’s lights for creating sleep cycles. The domains harvest data from each other and display daily statistics and estimates the survivor's release time.
 
Sounds fun, eh? However mind numbing this situation gets, the survivors can get through it with a psychologically healthy dose of communication, right? They are forced to have a 7-way video chat interface on at all times with the same group, the cameras angled to face the main part of their rooms.
 
The survivors develop close relationships, with only some nonverbal cues present, and as expected, become a rag tag community. You’d think after six years they’d know everything about one another. NAHT! This computer-mediated channel becomes their lives. This type of communication provides the individuals with an escape from reality—a chance for people to present themselves how they want, and imagine what they want about who’s on the other side. Sounds like my life…
 
The social structure of this band of true strangers starts to crack when the majority of the group votes that one of them be disconnected from the network. Orlando is a particular kind of jerk, a jerk who is quick-tongued, and knows how to turn what his mates say around on them. When he starts jabbing at Atlanta, who lost her three daughters to the epidemic, the broken democracy votes him off.
 
The apt hacker, Denver, is the one to shut him down. Denver’s sweetheart, Pheonix, is reticent about this change to their contained life and feels like the group can’t afford to judge at this point. She convinces Denver to try to bring him back. This endeavor’s research unveils a mystery. As they can see on a video file from the months that Orlando’s been cut off, he had been taken by a hulking figure through the once locked door of his bunker.
 
Each of the survivors carries a little bit of their past forward as they go through the motions of this sedentary, anxious, digital life. Some try to escape, and some can’t keep their wits about them… What are they hiding from each other that they can’t get through this together? This film has a peripheral theme of how asynchronous digital communication might affect our consciences, and I love it!