By Amy R. Handler | May 16, 2014

When a malevolent virus infiltrates National Security Agency computers and threatens the destruction of US and global intelligence, NSA officials enlist their top analyst to resolve the problem and restore order from the ensuing chaos. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.

John Chi’s newest film, Tentacle 8, is a surprisingly interesting crime thriller that explores what could happen if a breach stemming from America’s top information assurance bureau compromised the world as we know it. To hone in on this disturbing possibility, Chi focuses his lens on Ray Berry (Brett Rickaby), the NSA’s chief analyst, with a gift of photographic recall and complex code cracking. Berry is an odd reclusive type, with hints of Paranoia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In fact, if we weren’t informed early on that Berry was an NSA analyst, we might think he was a serial killer or worse.

In Berry’s line of work— where furtiveness and ambiguity are key— Berry’s innate personality traits come in handy when he goes deep undercover for investigative purposes. Berry takes on a number of personas that seem creepily authentic. In one of his many roles, Berry finds himself abducted and beaten almost to death. He also finds himself losing all control, when he meets a woman named Tabitha Lloyd (Amy Motta), and falls in love. It is in this latter state that Berry discovers that not only is Tabitha indecipherable, but that he too embodies deeply imbedded secrets far beyond his ability to understand.

Tentacle 8 is not without certain flaws in edit and presentation, which makes certain aspects of the narrative confusing. These include several flashbacks that are too seamlessly placed in scenes, so that viewers may not recognize that they are flashbacks at all. Also, the tempo in a few segments is much too slow, thereby threatening viewer-interest.

Luckily, Tentacle 8’s strengths in script and actor-portrayal far exceed any weaknesses, and that’s what makes the film a must-see. As far as I’m concerned, what makes Chi’s movie a true treat is its ability to open our minds to comparison with all that we know about the NSA and other such agencies created for the greater good. Any work of art that invites thought— disquieting or otherwise— can only be construed as wonderful.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.

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