Automation tells a familiar story set in the near future about a robot, affectionally named “Auto”, who is put to work as a prototype at a small company. Auto does his job well, so well that the owner Susan (Sadie Katz) wants to replace her workforce with robots and scrap Auto for the new and improved models. Auto, has become quite human-like in his emotional responses and finding out he is about to be scrapped, activates his former programing as a combat robot and even his human crush Jenny (Elissa Dowling) may now be in danger.
Stories of robots gaining human feelings and reacting badly to the idea of being shut down are not new, but director Garo Setian gives it enough charm and effectiveness to entertain, despite the familiarity. His script, written along with Rolfe Kanefsky and Matthew L. Schaffer, makes Auto very likable, which in turn makes his relationship with wannabe singer Jenny work very well. This gives us conflicting feelings and keeps us sympathetic when Auto starts to enter combat mode and kills. Do we cheer for him, or boo him? We don’t hate Auto. As he and Jenny’s relationship works so well, we are certainly sympathetic for her when she has to choose to try to stop Auto to save her co-workers. There is violence, but it is not too over-the-top to disrupt the film’s balance, but it does make Auto a threat when he needs to be. A fun and well made little movie that uses a familiar story very well. Also stars low budget horror film fixture Graham Skipper as an employee who resorts to desperate actions upon finding out he’s going to be replaced.