Roughneck Image


By Josiah Teal | November 11, 2020

HOLLYSHORTS 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! An interrogation interweaved with virtual reality, Roughneck introduces audiences to a world without sadness, anger, or regret. Made possible through virtual reality devices called “minders,” the world of Roughneck combines sci-fi narrative and cyberpunk ethos in just under 15 minutes.   

Existing in a world free from emotional pain, Lt. Caro (Derek Ray) finds himself questioning reality and memory as Col. Henry Blaine (Jamie McShane) seeks to prove Caro can feel more than just the ignorant bliss of the minder. New layers of emotion develop throughout the plot as Blaine probes deeper into Caro’s memory of his deceased wife, Navah (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). Director Andrew Hardaway takes notes from sci-fi greats like Blade Runner and Akira in this tale of augmented reality and dreamlike deception.

“…a world without sadness, anger, or regret.”

Roughneck emphasizes visuals and dedicates itself to the use of point of view shots. Through this devotion of blending POV and sleek visuals, the film creates a feeling of a lucid memory. By creating an unreliable reality, Hardaway and writer Jeremy Schwartz leave the audience in a constant state of uncertainty all the way through the film’s ending credits. 

Watching Roughneck, I was incredibly impressed by the visuals and how authentic the POV sequences were to the overall narrative. As a fan of cyberpunk aesthetics, the movie really delivers impressive visuals and illusive transitions between memory and reality (or at least what we think is reality). Roughneck does, however, feel more like the first act of a sci-fi feature rather than a complete, compact narrative. This focus on set-up left me optimistically anticipating more of this world of “memory addicts,” but also left me wanting more from the ending. If you are a fan of virtual reality and sci-fi films, such as Mnemophrenia, Roughneck could make for a great double-feature or a fun VR viewing party. 

Roughneck screened at the 2020 Hollyshorts Film Festival.

Roughneck (2020)

Directed: Andrew Hardaway

Written: Jerome Schwartz

Starring: Jamie McShane, Derek Ray, Cynthia Addai-Robinson, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

Roughneck  Image

"…takes notes from sci-fi this tale of augmented reality and dreamlike deception."

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  1. Courtney B. says:

    Roughneck was incredible. Like you, I was left wanting more! Maybe a feature film will one day be in the works?

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