For the last three hundred years or so, technology has increased at a rapid pace, and all it’s done is make our lives better. Air-conditioning, cars, cell phones, GPS—each seems impossible to live without now that they’re here. And how do we thank technology for making our lives so cushy? We drag its name through the mud. When technology is portrayed in media, it’s either murderous or has used its siren ways to exploit humanity’s emotional weaknesses. PKD9000, directed by Brandon Boudreaux, goes with the first approach, this time smearing the good name of microwaves.
The short film involves a microwave that appears to be knocking off various members of a household. Its motives are unclear, but we all know that microwaves are the least competent of all kitchen appliances. We’ve accepted they don’t work—unless you like your food too hot, not hot enough, or both too hot and not hot enough, depending on where you bite. Perhaps, the microwave got whiffs of its ineptitude—that we’ve been humoring it this whole time, snickering behind its back—and is lashing out in a Raskolnikov-esque act of self-justification.
Of course, the natural way to handle a story of this kind is with a mischievous, knowingly guilty grin, replete with crooked yellow teeth. It would be difficult to make a serious, life-altering drama centered around a microwave that’s turned against its owners, though I’m sure it could be done. We’re getting to the big problem with PKD9000, which is its lack of a tone of any kind. It’s not fun or goofy, as it probably should be.
“…a microwave that appears to be knocking off various members of a household.”
When the microwave kills people, they simply fall over. Why not have fun with the conceit? How would a microwave kill? Maybe the victims end up mostly dead, but still alive in some parts. Perhaps it puts people on the popcorn cycle, and they die via human popcorn explosion. Maybe it lures little Timmy’s pet hamster into its chamber and nukes it. I don’t know—something with a bit of imagination should happen at some point.
Saying anything more storywise would blow the big plot twist at the end, but it’s a bit of a dud, so it’s not beyond blowing for the greater good. Whatever tone is ultimately chosen, PKD9000 should have embraced it wholeheartedly. As it stands, the short film is just a series of things happening, without any flair or flavor or reason to watch.
It’s as if someone boiled the story down to nothing, and only its plot points floated to the surface—rock hard, inedible pits. Whether it goes the silly route or plot twist route—which is also silly and could be expanded on for greater effect—there’s some potential to PKD9000 as a proof of concept, as long as it’s left cooking a little longer in one of the more capable appliances.
"…...smearing the good name of microwaves."