“It’s time for your upgrade. It’s not gonna hurt.”
—the Man in Black
Frank, a burnt out architect, quits his job to become a filmmaker and create a star-making role for Sara, his actress-girlfriend. Of course, she leaves him. Or did she? He did fantasize he killed his boss, after all.
Frank’s subsequent web searchers to prepare for his film (e.g., Egyptian hieroglyphs, atomic testing, surveillance) place him on the radar of a dark government project in need of a test subject for their new device—a device that results in his inner demons to physically manifest. Or have they? Is he being followed? Is the mysterious woman he met through a dating app part of the conspiracy? Is she even real? Why can Frank perceive the primary colors of red and green, but not blue?
Ambiguity and interpretation is afoot in this indie writing and directing debut by Fernando Castro Sanguino, which reminds of the low budget sci-fi introductions to the works of Darren Aronofsky with Pi and Shane Carruth with Primer, as well as the late Anthony Anderson’s VHS-obscure, Interface (1984).
Astute film lovers will notice Sanguino’s homages to Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris and Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver in the disillusioned, downward spiral of his trouble architect-cum-filmmaker, along with the ugly-truth revelations of the Coen Brother’s Barton Fink. To classify Double Riddle as a sci-fi version of the Christian Bale-starring The Machinist isn’t far off the mark, either. Personally, I’d go as far as to say Sanguino has crafted a low-budget version of David Cronenberg’s Videodrome—using the internet instead of cable television.
This hour-long experimental film is a debut that fires on all the cylinder-disciplines of writing, directing, cinematography, and acting—and worth the psychological trip. Yeah, this rates alongside and inspires me to re-watch Elisa Fuksas’s really fine The App (2020), as well as Jason Lester’s High Resolution (2019).
After a successful film festival run, Fernando Castro Sanguino released Double Riddle as a free-with-limited-ads stream on Tubi via Indie Rights Movies.
Disclaimer: We didn’t receive a screener copy of Double Riddle from the film’s PA firm or distributor. We discovered this movie all on our own and genuinely enjoyed the film.
About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.