Latency Adds Professional Gaming to the Horror Space

Latency still of Hana, played by Sasha Luss, staring at the mirror.

With dimly lit rooms and shades remaining drawn, Latency builds up a not-if-but-when sensation as Hana begins spiraling.

Latency has a promising premise as it merges new technology with a gamer with unpacked trauma. But it loses itself in obscurity. However, that’s not to detract from its entertaining aspect. Although slow, the buildup reaches a fitting and creepy climax. While the uncertain quality works, Hana’s (Sasha Luss, Anna, The Last Front) past feels too jangled for audiences to pick apart how it ties into current events. Regardless of its pitfalls, Latency has phenomenal tension-building, and it’s an astonishing feat considering the claustrophobic setting of one apartment.

The film, written and directed by James Croke, focuses on a washed-up gamer, Hana. While she is not at the top of her game anymore, she still makes a living testing games for any issues that creators must resolve pre-game release. In addition, Hana has agoraphobia—fear of leaving one’s home. So, she’s a shut-in. Her terror is so acute that opening the door to sign for deliveries is challenging. As she struggles to pay basic living expenses like rent, fortune smiles on her with the opportunity to test out some new technology, Omnia, an electroencephalography device.

Latency Creates Tension Through Confined Space

Latnecy still of Hana, played by Sasha Luss sitting in a chair with Jen, played by Alexis Ren, leaning next to her.
Latency. Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Through Latency‘s runtime, the cramped spacing builds tension. Not to mention that, aside from Hana’s computer, monitors, and speakers, the place looks dingy, rundown, and depressing. Aside from her friend, Jen (Alexis Ren), who brings her food and other necessities, Hana has no connection with the outside world. With dimly lit rooms and shades remaining drawn, Latency builds up a not-if-but-when sensation as Hana begins spiraling. And it all starts with Omnia, a tech device that scans your brain waves. After a lengthy configuration process, Omnia is active and touts it can react based on the person’s mind. 

Musical Choices and Acting Create Tension

Latency still of Hana, played by Sasha Luss.
Latency. Courtesy of Lionsgate.

Given the minimal space, Latency is still a heightened, nerve-wracking atmosphere. The music helps with that as it feels like a cross between Tron sounds and something in Zelda, thereby bridging the gap. It becomes an auditory example of Hana’s game and computer-filled life. Alongside the music and sound effects, Sasha Luss creates a fascinating character with her performance, even if it feels incomplete because of the plot. 

While tense, with some delightful Oculus-esque moments, Latency does not fulfill the narrative of how her past impacts her present. Instead, it swims in obscurity, leaving discernment up to the viewer, who will never have all the pieces. Her gamer name, Banshee, becomes fitting, given the wailing, solitary existence of the mythical being. It’s unclear whether the Omnia device sped up her downward spiral or the lack of proper sleep, along with lots of Red Bull consumption to calibrate the Omnia and prepare for a gaming competition with dire stakes, caused it. 

Regardless, Latency does emphasize unpacked trauma and perhaps extends a cautionary warning about devices that “are always with you.” The technology is less a warning than who wields it. That’s where the danger lies. Similar to AI and other tech that are not bad on the surface. However, how people use it to marginalize downtrodden demographics further creates the problem. Still, the climax implies a muddled merging of these concepts. But, whatever the case, Latency is memorable with creepy sound effects and a believable lead performance that carries the tight quarters despite trying to do everything and missing the mark at times. 

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