SXSW 2023 review: ‘THE ARTIFICE GIRL’ is everything we’ve hoped and feared.


Writer-Director-Editor Franklin Ritch brings his festival hit THE ARTIFICE GIRL and its mesmerizing premise to SXSW 2023 audiences. When an FBI team discovers an advanced AI that entices men online, they team up with its reclusive creator. But as the years pass, technology grows beyond human capabilities, begging questions about morality in ways you won’t see coming.

The first thirty-nine minutes, or chapter one, occur in one room. One single scene sets up the plot. The dialogue is acid-tongued, and the performances are outstanding. The concept of an AI child helping catch predators makes all the sense in the world. It appears to save innumerable lives, but nothing in this world is as straightforward as it seems. What

Admittedly, it took me too long to realize that the second chapter is a jump in time. It is a brilliant visual shift in the narrative and a moment that deserves another watch. It is here our three adult battle one another from a moral standpoint. Amos realizes that Cherry has advanced to the point of “feelings.” He challenges her sensibilities with an assault on Gareth. Everything changes from this moment.

Chapter three features another jump forward, breaking the mold by exiting the unit set and bringing Cherry into the real world. We see her tethered to the wall via power cables but moving about her midcentury home. Now Lance Henriksen takes on the role of now wheelchair-bound Gareth with a calmer, wiser demeanor. This chapter is the most personal and revelatory.

David Girard plays Amos with wide-eyed astonishment and fatherly intuition. Amos’ arc proves complex and integral in Cherry’s development. Girard never fails to astound with the slightest change in facial expression. Sindra Nichols plays Deena with a seemingly hardened demeanor, basically bad cop to Girard’s good cop. Underneath, her motivation reveals the best of intentions. Nichols is captivating.

Ritch plays Gareth, and rightfully so. As the puppet master of this creation in real life, it only seems fair that his extensive knowledge is laid bare for the audience to experience in all its nuance. He hits each beat with intensity and sharpness. With a striking resemblance to a young Sarah Polley, Tatum Matthews plays Cherry with a maturity beyond her age. Ritch’s script allows her to play multiple roles. Most of her performance is delivered directly to the camera because she is an AI. Witnessing her journey is breathtaking.

The script tackles morality, science, privacy, entrapment, children’s rights, autonomy, and unresolved trauma. THE ARTIFICE GIRL would also make a spectacular stage play. The quality of Franklin Ritch’s storytelling is mesmerizing and complex. The possibilities are endless for this story. I am here for whatever comes next.

PS- A perfect ending.

Film Screenings

Mar 11, 2023
Mar 12, 2023
Mar 15, 2023
Mar 15, 2023



Franklin Ritch

Executive Producer:

Peter Kuplowsky


Aaron B. Koontz, Ashleigh Snead


Franklin Ritch


Britt McTammany


Franklin Ritch

Sound Designer:

Jason Strawley, Dave Chmela


Alex Cuervo

Principal Cast:

Tatum Matthews, Sinda Nichols, David Girard, Franklin Ritch, Lance Henriksen

Additional Credits:

Co-Producer: Cameron Burns, Co-Producer: Alex Euting, Line Producer: Jason Blankenship


Review: ‘CAMERA OBSCURA’ is a well developed horror.

Camera Obscura

In theaters today, June 9th and on VOD and Digital HD on Tuesday, June 13th

SYNOPSIS: A veteran war photographer with PTSD sees imminent deaths in his developed photos, questioning his already fragile sanity and putting the lives of those he loves in danger.

Camera Obscura has an engrossing plot. The script has nods to horror classics like Amityville, Final Destination, and every haunted object film out there. Adding in the element of PTSD allows the audience to further question what is real and what is in the mind’s eye. There are some truly vibrant visuals when those lines are blurred. With a fair number of skin-crawling moments thrown in, Camera Obscura does its job at entertaining and keeping you guessing. I certainly did not see the ending coming. I will also give credit to the fact that the pace is already ramped up in full force before we’re even 20 minutes in. The cast is wonderful with particularly outstanding moments coming from Catherine Curtain and (no stranger to the horror genre) Andrew Sensenig. All while utilizing throwback ideas, Camera Obscura stands on its own as something disturbing and unique. You can catch the trailer below.

IN THEATERS: June 9, 2017
DIRECTOR: Aaron B. Koontz
WRITERS: Aaron B. Koontz, Cameron Burns
CAST: Christopher Denham, Nadja Bobyleva, Catherine Curtin, Chase Williamson, Noah Segan
GENRE: Thriller, Horror