In Films by Alex Moss Editor

There must have been something in the water at the Scott household at some point in time. Because Morgan is the debut feature of Luke Scott, son of Ridley, nephew to sadly departed uncle Tony, brother to Plunket & Macleane’s Jake, and half-brother to Cracks director Jordan. In his early career Ridley made a name for himself in visually arresting and compelling sci-fi films like Alien and Blade Runner. So can Luke live up to dear old dad?

Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is a corporate risk manager who travels to a remote research facility to determine whether or not artificial human Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) should be terminated. Arriving at the facility Weathers learns that the scientists responsible for creating Morgan no longer see her as a synthetic human but part of their family. Behavioural expert Amy (Rose Leslie) in particular has formed a strong bond with Morgan. But when psychologist Dr. Shapiro (Paul Giamatti) pushes Morgan too far, Weathers must make the ultimate decision on her fate.

Like his father, Luke Scott has a wonderful ability to capture a moody, foreboding sci-fi setting. The sterile labs juxtaposed with the vibrant lush forest outside gives Morgan a genuinely immersive look. Like Alien, Luke is happy to offer up a slow-burn first half, teasing you into Morgan’s world and allowing us to see all the different angles.

For the first half Morgan certainly grabs the attention and hints at fascinating sci-fi themes and ideas. On the one side you have the Frankenstein concept of man playing God which is then developed into mankind killing God in order to create something new. Throw in themes of what it means to be human and Morgan has the potential to be this year’s Ex_Machina.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Because for all those gripping ideas Morgan soon descends into a predictable formula that is more interested in crowd pleasing horror than it is in fully exploring the questions it has planted in the audience’s’ mind. To call it frustrating would be an understatement.

The ensemble cast all play interestingly flawed characters. Leslie, still most famous for telling Jon Snow he “knows nothin”, plays the petulant sisterly role well, albeit one that is left with little to do but stand and gawp as all hell breaks loose towards the end. Mara gives an intriguingly dry performance, capturing the very definition of corporate stooge which works well when she’s painted from the outset as the protagonist. But it is Taylor-Joy, already having a cracking year between this and The Witch, who shines. In Morgan she injects a sense of innocent wonder combined with underlying menace at the fragility of life. It’s a smart portrayal of an adolescent trying to find her place in the world and a delicate one that keeps Morgan ticking along when the plot has otherwise lost itself.

Like it’s lead character Morgan has endless potential but come the climax feels a poor investment and never lives up to its impressive billing.