Morgan: Promising Concept, Poor End-Result
While the concept behind Morgan is interesting on paper and holds plenty of potential to delve into some profound cinematic explorations, screenwriter Seth W. Owen and director Luke Scott fail to develop its somewhat intriguing idea into anything more than a predictable and generic sci-fi horror.
The story follows a group of scientists who have spent years working on artificially creating a genetically enhanced humanoid being. After a string of failures, they finally get what they want and they name her Morgan (The Witch’s Taylor-Joy); a peculiar looking girl who has managed to develop much faster than they ever could have ever hoped for and demonstrates amazing abilities for someone who is supposedly only five years old.
Morgan has managed to bond with her handlers over the years, which include project leader, Simon (Jones) and behaviorist, Amy (Leslie), Brenda (Robinson), Skip (Holbrook), Darren (Sullivan) and Ted (Yare). However, things take a turn when Morgan attacks her ‘Lab Mom’ Dr. Kathy Grieff (Leigh), injuring her badly in the process. The episode manages to draw the attention of risk assessment agent, Lee (Mara), who has been called in to investigate the incident and to determine whether Morgan will need to be put down or not.
A sense of isolation and mystery are a heavy presence throughout the first half of the picture, which, although a little clunky and relatively slow paced – those who are not fans of a slow-burn build up won’t be too pleased with the prolonged introduction – is filled with promise. Shot beautifully, the coolness and the ambiguity of the picture is captured wonderfully by cinematographer Mark Patten who manages to provide a nice visual balance of the lab’s clinical indifference to its surroundings – and to Morgan herself – and the serenely idyllic images of nature outside of it.
Unfortunately, it’s the writing as a whole that doesn’t hold up its end of the deal with the story’s rather compelling and interesting premise soon falling to ridiculous twists. The drastic tonal change in the movie’s second half is supposed to be jarringly haunting – even shocking – however, the clumsy shift, handled by newbie director Luke Scott – the son of the famed filmmaker Ridley Scott – just doesn’t translate into.
Although a little cheap, some of the action witnessed manages to work with the acting faring a little better; Taylor-Joy impresses as the mysterious creation whilst Giamatti’s few minutes onscreen as the arrogant psychologist trying to trigger Morgan’s anger is superb. All in all, Morgan is a pretty picture to look at, but thanks to its sloppy script and misguided direction, it’s empty and ultimately forgettable.