For its 1995-themed week, The A.V. Club let me write about one of my favorite film subgenres: mid-'90s internet paranoia movies.
"...The internet and virtual-reality films of 1995 also show the emergence of a problem that filmmakers are still struggling with today: how to represent a digital world on screen. You can see early attempts to create some sort of cohesive visual language to stand in for the internet. Status bars, for example, are used in more than one of these movies as a quick way to ratchet up tension; the heroes have to wait until the bar reaches 100 percent before they can flee to safety. It’s a cheap thrill, and one we sadly haven’t outgrown yet.
Mostly, though, attempts to create a new look for the internet are hideous, trafficking in cheesy, psychedelic swirls of numbers and symbols and environments that look like video games circa Nintendo 64. Hackers andVirtuosity both fall victim to the allure of pop-art colors: Virtuosity makes is virtual exit quickly, bringing SID 6.7 into the real world, but Hackers often goes into the “architecture” of circuitry, with skyscrapers of squares and rectangles standing in for the systems they’re trying to break into, and dreamy-looking equations standing in for the data they want to collect. Today, it looks dated..."
Click through to read the full essay at The A.V. Club, or download the PDF.