These films are also about our fear of dependence – the idea of placing all our eggs in one basket, only to find that the basket has become evil and is trying to kill us, our eggs, and the chickens that laid them. The fear of the terrible consequences that would befall us, were the human race to become too complacent, lazy, or – horror of horrors – compliant and unquestioning. If we give over too much of our power and control to something we believe to be innocuous, simply because we created it, we precipitate the end of the world.
Parallels can also be drawn with parenthood anxieties. We create our children and encourage their compliance and obedience throughout their youth. We invest our energies in teaching them the things we think they should be taught, only to watch them grow, evolve and mature – absorbing their experiences until that terrifying moment when they are suddenly entirely independent, beyond our control, and loose in the world. At the other end of that dynamic, we can see religious overtones, with the damage and destruction wrought by sentient and intelligent technology as divine retribution for a species that gives in to its arrogance, and attempts to interfere with the perceived ‘natural order’ of the universe.
But, delve further, and the best examples of these films are those that resonate deep within the secret corners of our consciences. The corners we choose to avert our gaze from and don’t mention in polite company. Those hidden crevices around which our most insidious, darkest fears scuttle, and hide from the light. Here resides the fear of finding yourself suddenly under brutal physical or psychological attack from your closest quarter, at your most vulnerable moment. Because that’s the thing about technology, and computers – they are everywhere, all the time. The smartphone that sits innocently by the bed while you sleep. The hard-drive that monitors the engine performance of your family car. The PCs and tablets your children use to study.
Yes, it all boils down to trust and betrayal. Whether the damage is physical or emotional, the films listed over the next few pages are the modern take on Frankenstein’s Monster – mankind oversteps its bounds, creates something that cannot be controlled, and unsettling things ensue.
So, without further ado, here are five of the best films featuring the relationship between humans and technology.