The Manual: written and directed by Wil Magness (short film review).

February 14, 2018 | By | 1 Reply More

The Manual is a half hour long film by Wil Magness, currently on the festival circuit, set in the distant future. James (actor J.J. Johnson) is the last man on Earth. After his parents die, he is raised and protected by an android called the Machine (actress Lauren Emery). The android has a calm feminine voice in which, when given instructions, it says ‘I have heard your order and will comply’. This would be a good way to annoy your boss or your spouse.

Oddly, the Machine is religious and reads The Manual to James from a handheld device. The Manual is a religious text which assures man of an afterlife where he will be reunited with his parents and other loved ones. Robots are spiritual beings, too, and will enjoy the next life along with humans. In theory, given the wonderful afterlife they believe in, Christians should be quite keen on dying but I’ve never met any who are. Even an ageing Pope sought expensive medical treatment in Switzerland to prolong his life and in no hurry, as Gore Vidal pointed out, to meet his employer.

The Manual, the book not the film, makes interesting points about reality and perception and proclaims that man-made machine in his own image just as the creator made man in his. James begins to doubt the truth of The Manual and needs something else. ‘We can resume our search for people if that is what will give you solace,’ says Machine.

So we get a view of the bleak state of the Earth. James and the Machine live in a cabin in the woods but the rest of the world is empty. The pair is shown wandering through empty buildings and there are fine cinematic shots of deserted landscapes with skyscrapers looming in the distance. All in all, the film is visually interesting and professionally put together.

It’s not a jolly film but quiet and thoughtful. As with a good short story, the ending gives you a solid sense of what it was all about. I’m not sure I liked the ending but it worked. All in all, an interesting film and worth your time.

One can only run to so many words about a short work so to quote Forrest Gump said: ‘That’s all I have to say about that.

Eamonn Murphy

February 2018

(pub: 30 minute short film)

stars J.J. Johnson as James and Lauren Emery as Machine


check out website:

The Manual – Teaser Trailer from Wil Magness on Vimeo.

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Category: MEDIA, Scifi, Short movie

About the Author ()

Eamonn Murphy is a science fiction, fantasy, horror and graphic novel reviewer who writes a bit too.

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  1. gerardo says:

    good review

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