(director/writer: Franklin Ritch; cinematographer: Britt McTammany; editor: Franklin Ritch; music: Alex Cuervo; cast: Lance Henriksen (Gareth), Franklin Ritch (Gareth), Tatum Matthews (Cherry), Sinda Nichols (Deena), David Girard (Amos), Ivana Barnes (Funeral Home Director0. Rashaud Sessoms (Ben), Alyssa Moody (Ilia); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Aaron B. Koontz/Ashleigh Snead; XYZ Films; 2022)

“Tells in a flat way about the ethics of AI used online to trap pedophiles.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Franklin Ritch in his debut feature, a low-budget film, tells in a flat way about the ethics of AI used online to trap pedophiles.

The artifice girl is a digital avatar of the young girl named Cherry (Tatum Matthews), who becomes bait for those online going to dating sites to meet girls.

It divides its unexciting procedural tale into three chapters, which are all at the same location but with different scenarios. Beginning in a police interrogation room, Cherry’s creator, Gareth (Franklin Ritch), is questioned how his creation works by Deena (Sinda Nichols) and Amos (David Girard), members of a taskforce on child sexual abuse. In the second sequence Cherry is made more ripe for sentient behavior and Gareth allows for her intelligence to be physically adapted to be more human-like. In the third chapter,  an older Gareth is played by the veteran actor Lance Henriksen, who livens things up from its prior wooden dialogue. But this welcome gesture comes too late to save this argumentative film from its tedium, whose ideas are bookish and never translate their chatty philosophical musings to the screen in a meaningful and interesting way. 

It played at the SXSW Film Festival.

The Artifice Girl
REVIEWED ON 4/27/2023  GRADE: B-