Scientists now have the ability to record dreams, and the technology has trickled down into the realm of the street, where a small, possibly black, market has opened up for the most vivid, striking imaginings.
Matias in particular has access to a little girl who has emerged as a commodity for her dream abilities. But he may be trouble, as Vicente, a man associated with a law firm, comes to interrogate him about whether any laws or conventions have been violated in her recordings.
But as everyone’s real motives are revealed, the true stakes also emerge, putting the young girl in a uniquely terrifying peril.
Writer-director Jaime Gonzalez’s short sci-fi thriller on the surface explores a long-running preoccupation in the genre: the ability to record consciousness. In this case, it’s the fascinating idea that the unconscious can be watched and recorded. In this short, this creates a market for artistic experiences and stories that bear little “interference” from a conscious creator or artist, and art is less about the conscious cultivating of talent and more about discovering “buried treasure.”
The script and story explores this idea in a philosophical way, rather than through any fantastical CGI sequences or big action scenes. The story — brought to life with dynamic, moody camerawork and engaging performances — is essentially structured about the interrogation scene. As Vicente struggles to understand why this little girl is so special, and why anyone wants to experience another person’s dreams in the first place, the audience learns and thinks right along with him.
The dialogue certainly dances through interesting, provocative ideas about this new technology, but the narrative is less about the premise at hand, and more about how new technology often opens up the darker impulses in people, particularly those who want to exploit an emerging market or product. The true darkness here is not the nightmares that people like to consume for popular entertainment, but the greed within humankind, which exploits the weak and vulnerable and reduces them to a commodity.
“Kept” is a remarkably tense watch, especially considering that it’s essentially an interrogation scene, a scene of chess where only one person really knows the game being played. Instead of leaning on big action, the drama and surprise lies in the unveiling of motives and revelation of agendas — and the tragedy is how there is always human collateral, no matter what era or age we find ourselves in.