Review: Last Stop Coney Island (Brooklyn Horror Film Festival)

Last Stop Coney Island is one of those shorts that creates a universe in need of further exploration into the mythos surrounding the filmmakers’ creation. This necessity is not because it is illogical or an utter mess, like many films tend to be, but is rather due to the stimulating and thought-provoking concept at the heart of the short film. This movie should be expanded into a full-length feature to give this story the proper space and time it deserves. The plot line from IMDB tries to simply sum-up the fifteen minute short in just one sentence: “An android takes the subway home and experiences a sequence of events that force her to toe the line between human and machine.” Yes, this does sound right, and is generally the story at hand, but the depth of Last Stop Coney Island delves into psychologically dark places in the underbelly of Coney Island and leaves viewers with a glimpse as to what may possibly be the future of America— a devoutly shared existence with artificial intelligence.

Co-directors, Alessandro Santoror and A.K. Espada (who also wrote and plays the lead), constructs a place where emotions and sensations come to a head, mostly through the eyes of an impassive and taciturn female android. The lack of differing facial expressions on Espada’s android character eventually changes through the adventure back to Coney Island. Scenes subtly change in tone and theme throughout, as she encounters a crying woman and a creepy drunk man who could be a potential rapist. Next to the plot arc of artificial intelligence living amongst humans, the setting concocted here would benefit from plunging further into the characters and the backstory of how this world was derived, especially since the film opens with the nameless droid’s voiceover about a murder of another bot. 

Aside from the battle between artificial intelligence and humanity, there is a ploy on sexuality and gender running through the madness of the central character and the two differing people she encounters, the crying woman and Scruffy, the vagabond who may or may not want to do her harm. Although he abruptly confronts her, it doesn’t mean he necessarily is going to commit a crime (although one can initially assume the worst— that’s the power of solid horror). When our nameless protagonist observes the woman crying on the train, questioning why she is shedding tears isn’t significant, as compared to what is going on inside the mind (dare I call it that?) of the android. The voice over through the film is crucial and the script is analytically rich, powerful and prods one to question not just what’s happening in the short, but also technology and what it has in store for the future. 

Last Stop Coney Island was a standout short at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, playing during the Locals Only: Shorts by Brooklyn Filmmakers at Cartland Books, which resides on the Williamsburg/Bushwick border. This homegrown short film displays A.K. Espada and Alessandro Santoror’s directorial vision. Their vision is clear and crisp, with vivid imagery of New York City’s grittiness juxtaposed with black and white scenes that embody the emotionless and nameless android. This is one to watch a few times, as it will simmer in one’s brain and force the self to ponder after the closing of the film and leave questions to pose about what lies ahead. 
                  4.5 out of 5 Zombie Heads

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