Autofac is the eighth episode of Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams and begins with Emily Zabriskie (Juno Temple) heading for work at the titular company when a rocket blows up New York, and life will be very different for any survivors of the war that ensued. Picking up after that, we see a post-apocalyptic world with technology that’s self-aware, and the after effects including that the war has taken Emily from posh businesswoman to dreadlocked scruff-bag, just like everyone else.
It turns out that Autofac is “the world’s smartest factory”. Should they take the items provided by Autofac? What ARE these items? Doing that makes them increasingly dependent on the machines who think they know better than us. And do they really have our best interests at heart?
Why was this company doing what it did? The billing states that Autofac is “a massive, automatic product-manufacturing factory continues to operate according to the principles of consumerism – humans consume products to be happy, and in order to consume continuously, they must be denied freedom of choice and free will”, but that wasn’t got across to us at all. All we could see is that it was delivering packages which they weren’t opening, with an inference that they’d harm the survivors. Since they weren’t, just let the drones do whatever they’re doing and get on with your own life.
Again, this feels like a number of things we’ve seen before, and I don’t know what was in PKD’s original script and what’s since been added, but we’ve had humans wanting to take down big companies, especially those which are run by machines in the future, being chased by robot sentry drones, and more which I’ll query within a spoiler tag, but there’s also elements of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter which I’ll discuss in there, too.
Overall, this was slightly better than last week’s The Father Thing, but not by much, and it feels like we’re being served up the remains we didn’t need now these last four episodes are finally being aired.
Director: Peter Horton
Producer: Lynn Horsford
Screenplay: Travis Beacham (based on the short story by Philip K Dick)
Music: Ólafur Arnalds and BT
Emily Zabriskie: Juno Temple
Alice: Janelle Monáe
Conrad Morrison: David Lyons
Avishai Hahn: Nick Eversman
Reverend Perine: Jay Paulson
Lewis: Maximiliano Hernández
Susan: Rebecca Jordan
Garret: Roberto Mantica
The Watchmen: Desmond Laurent
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.