GHOSTS WITH SHIT JOBS
On had no idea what to expect from Ghosts With Shit Jobs before sitting down to watch. It rapidly proves to be a fascinatingly intelligent science-fiction film that blows you away with its complexity of ideas. Much of the world reminds you of the trilogy of contemporary science-fiction books that William Gibson wrote with Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007) and Zero History (2010). In particular, the character of Rachel MacMillans Serina the human spammer feels like something that could easily have stepped out of the world of Hubertus Bigend and would be perfectly at home in his employ.
One was considerably impressed with the maturity of writing and the dazzling grasp of science-fictional concepts that Jim Munroe throws around. Munroe does what the essence of all good conceptual science-fiction does he depicts a future where those in it are just ordinary people living their lives. The beauty of the film comes in a number of throwaway lines that these characters casually toss off that are abruptly making us do double-takes when we think about the layered cultural assumptions that come in the things that they are saying. Like when Jason Wrubell and Kelly Spilchak, the husband and wife in the Babymakers episode, talk about babies that became corrupted and throw out offhand lines like: So what do you do with the batch [of babies]? Trash the defectives and start over with a new batch. Or the goofing Joshua Hundert in the Silk Gatherers episode dismissing reports of giant mutant spiders wandering the area and throwaway lines like Oh man, well be drinking water tonight. Another fascinating cultural assumption is that in this future Caucasian people are in a minority. The way this is conducted with discussion about the struggle of immigrants dealing with prejudice or the Chinese making comments about how white people dont seem to mind working 12-14 hour days makes this one of the few films that gives you a feeling of the assumptions made about them that minorities who live in a dominant other racial culture must deal with on a constant basis. This is strong and intelligent science-fiction.
The complaint you could make about Ghosts With Shit Jobs is that the story strands dont have too much life of their own. They are more a series of slice of life human interest pieces from a magazine type tv show (as the films format mimics). There are somewhat underdeveloped aspects you are not quite sure, for instance, what the talk of viruses in the system in the Digital Janitor episode are all about or why Oscar is coming down with headaches and illnesses. The most fully developed of these is the Human Spam episode and the character of Serina where Rachel MacMillan gives a fine, complexly shaded performance in the part. All of the story strands are woven together in a long climactic venture into the Wayback Machine simulation where the film makes an often affectingly sentimental tribute to the past. The show is wrapped up with a coda back in the Chinese studio that holds a nicely dark sting.
Jim Munroe subsequently went on to write Haphead (2015), another very similar micro-budgeted science-fiction film, which was directed by Tate Donovan, one of the directors here.