Review: There's a glitch in simulation theory doc 'A Glitch in the Matrix'

Documentary explores whether or not any of this is real

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

There's no questioning "The Matrix" is a great action movie. But there are lots of questions to be asked of those who take the movie's notion that we're living in a computer simulation seriously. 

Those questions are scarcely asked in "A Glitch in the Matrix," a plodding documentary in which a handful of Neo obsessives are allowed to ramble on in their theories that the world we live in is a program and that nothing is real. (If that was true, at the very least, wouldn't the "Matrix" sequels have been better? Or was that part of the plan to throw people off the scent after the first film exposed too much?)

A scene from "A Glitch in the Matrix."

Director Rodney Ascher, who more successfully explored rabid fan theory in 2012's "The Shining" documentary "Room 237," focuses his attention on a handful of devotees of "simulation theory." Hilariously — whether or not that is the intention is unclear — these subjects are presented through digital filters that make them look like video game bosses; one looks like a Mayan God with a red sun for a face, another like a squid in a deep sea diver's suit. 

They discuss at length how the world can't possibly be real, offering little in the way of, you know, evidence. (The shared memory theory known as "The Mandela Effect" is also touched on, albeit too briefly.) Their stories are accompanied by footage of films such as "The Wizard of Oz," "Avatar" and yes, "The Matrix," along with clips of Philip K. Dick and Elon Musk endorsing such alternate reality theories. 

Is Ascher co-signing these beliefs? Not quite, and in one harrowing sequence in the film, he talks to an obsessed "Matrix" fan who took his assumptions about the world we live in too far and murdered his parents. There's danger, you see, in treating the world as if it's a computer program, and consequences to be paid for acting as such. It's an obvious conclusion that any rational person should have already come to on their own.


'A Glitch in the Matrix'


Not rated: Language, movie violence, adult themes

Running time: 108 minutes

At the Historic Howell Theater and on VOD Friday