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Dark City, a detective, conspiracy thriller of a film, twists and winds in a manner not too dissimilar to eXistanZ, and others of that ilk. Not a hit upon initial release in 1998, this film has become a cult classic musing on the nature of reality.

This is the director?s cut version and has had scenes moved around since the original version, lending it an even darker air. The hints at possible syntheticness to reality are more crisp than they were in the original.

It opens on the protagonist of the film, John Murdoch, as he awakes with a start in a hotel bathtub, unable to remember anything of his past. Its dark outside, and he slowly clambers from the bath, trying to work out what is going on. As he stumbles into his hotel room, he receives a call from a Dr. Daniel Schreber, who clearly knows him, but whom he has no recolection of. The stuttering doctor urges Murdoch to flee, to get out of there before dire consequences occur ? they are coming for him, the strangers.

Its at this point that Murdoch discovers the still-warm corpse of a brutalised, ritualistically murdered woman, spiral curves lacerated into her body with a sharp implement. He also finds a bloody knife. Paniced, he flees the hotel, not knowing what to do. As he leaves, tall gaunt men, seeming utter out of place, hairless and dressed all in black arrive at his room. The Strangers.

Murdoch is on a quest to uncover his real identity, whilst the police are seeking him. So many questions to answer, as he slowly unravels his life. Why is it perpetually dark? Why, at midnight each day, does everyone but him freeze in place then fall asleep? Why do new buildings rise out of the ground each midnight, and old ones crumble away? Are individual personalities shifting, changing on a daily basis? Why?

Murdoch discovers he has powers, to somehow affect reality, to bend it ever so slightly to his will. The Strangers are after him as well as the police, as he struggles to find answers to anything, in the dark city.

 

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