Tribeca Film Festival '18: "Bad Peter" Review


Bad Peter is the beginning of a good Black Mirror episode. Directed by Zach Strauss, it’s a slice of life look at what AI capabilities could become in the future. While the Big Brother concept isn’t new, the characterization of Strauss’s characters is what makes it an intriguing peak in.

Rachel (Frankie Shaw) is an expectant mother. Her day is regimented by a personal automated assistant. Peter is a white rectangular boxed speaker with a glowing red light that lights up like Siri or Alexa when it speaks. At first glance, Rachel follows Peter’s suggestions as a way to optimal health for her and the baby. As the film moves forward, Shaw’s performance amps up from happy and relaxed to a stressed and upset mother-to-be in a beautifully revealing way.

Simplicity is key in this film. Cinematographer Noah Greenberg gives the film a bright, clean and sterile look. Susie Mancini’s production design gives the single mother’s home a somewhat rustic and meager look. These elements enhance the viewer’s draw into the story of what eventually makes a dark turn. 

Well crafted and directed by Strauss, the film’s noteworthy theme is the intersection of the justice system and artificial intelligence. It’s a future that could indeed be around the corner. Definitely worth checking out!


Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.