“I doubt the film is going to spell the downfall of AI – but people might turn the camera off on their laptop”: Spencer Brown on TIM
TIM is the new sci-fi thriller and feature debut from comedian turned writer-director Spencer Brown, co-written with his partner Sarah Govett, author of The Territory. Channelling aspects of stalker thrillers and the dystopian visions of our technology-ridden future, from Black Mirror to Ex Machina, The Matrix to Humans, the film takes as its premise the arrival of a Technologically Integrated Manservant or TIM (Eamon Farren) in the new home of married couple Abi (Georgina Campbell) and Paul (Mark Rowley). It’s no random occurrence – the human-like robot is a perk of the job Abi has just landed as an engineer working on the product, as is their sleek and modern, fully integrated smarthome. On the surface, their life has reached a level of affluence many aspire to. But not all is as perfect as it seems, not least the pair’s marriage, exacerbated by TIM’s increasing infatuation with Abi.
While cinematic discourse has often ruminated on our relationship with technology, what perhaps puts TIM into fresh territory is just how close to our present-day reality it sits. Rather than being a total flight of fancy, a purely speculative vision of our future, the fact that we’ve already seen the explosion of deep fake technologies and AI since the release of Chat CPT into the wild this year (and that indeed many of the smart features of their home exist today), means the narrative cleverly taps into anxieties that are much closer to home.
It seems apt to have Campbell leading proceedings, as her breakout role was a scene-stealer in Black Mirror and further credits since have included horror Barbarian, and the relationship between Abi and Paul has a real authenticity to it in her hands and Rowley’s (The Last Kingdom), rooting the story in a very believable marital dynamic. Farren (The Witcher) meanwhile has the most challenging gig as TIM, and does a fantastic job at walking that fine line between robotic and uncannily human. It’s a tense and sinister techno horror that sees what should be a dream home transform into a terrifying prison, and forms a chilling warning of the dangers of allowing AI to creep into our lives at speed, particularly given those selling it to us might be at best incompetent, and at worst have nefarious motivations to exploit.
The Upcoming spoke to Brown about how he and Govett combined their love of 90s stalker thrillers like Fatal Attraction and fears of the rapid spread of AI and Big Data in their story, finding their perfect cast, and how the film taps into our legitimate fears around the role of technology in our lives.
TIM is released on Netflix on 16th August 2023.
Watch the trailer for TIM here: