Eldritch Code: sci-fi horror short on corporate exploitation of workers

Ivan Radovic, “Eldritch Code” (2017)

Partly told in a world-weary voice-over narration by the main character, this sci-fi horror short brings the Lovecraft universe into a near-contemporary society dominated by the corporate world and digital technology. In an unidentified corporation, an IT administrator (Martin Hendrikse) finds that an employee, Samantha (Lisa Bearpark), has introduced yet another computer virus into the company’s network and has to hunt it down and erase it using the antiquated company anti-virus tools. He beavers away all day and into the night – even resorting to building his own supercomputer to contain the virus’s spread – until he discovers the true nature of the computer virus and the actual horror it will bring to him and to Earth as well.

The IT systems administrator learns of a secret cult that, centuries ago, formed around a man who discovered an alien fragment in a Middle Eastern desert is waiting for the stars and galaxies to align in a fashion that will allow unknown forces to come to Earth and take it over. Incredibly the cult is still active all over the planet … and too late does he realise that his work and efforts in finding and erasing the virus leak in the company systems have put his life in danger.

The corporate setting, the weariness of the IT systems administrator, his nerdy unsociable character and need for caffeine, and the crowded workplace he does his work in are amusing parodies of what IT people often experience: though their work is essential in most corporate settings, and companies would simply die without them, nevertheless they go underappreciated, underpaid and under-resourced for their superhuman efforts and intelligence. Though of course they are not so brainy as to be able to build their own supercomputers in the space of a few hours working back late and chalking up more overtime! At once cartoony and in the style of a hard-boiled detective story, the film sets up the dark and grimy world in which the IT administrator is forced to go behind company policy to build his own closed systems that unexpectedly throw him (and the audience) into a trip through many universes at faster-than-light speeds to face the notorious Eldritch Code.

The po-faced acting is just right for a film of this nature with its tongue firmly in cheek as the supernatural suddenly invades the mundane world of corporate work cubicles and IT systems staff dealing with employee errors and scammers seeking ways to invade and infect corporate digital networks. The IT staffer’s attitude and internal monologue together with the storyline as it develops help set up the tension as viewers realise the virus problem is more than he – or anyone else – can deal with.

Amusing and horrific by turns, the short film format is just right for the short’s premise. It ends quickly in a most devastating way and reveals an unexpected twist in the plot … all along, the IT systems administrator had been an intended sacrifice to the Cthulhu cult. The true horror that is exposed is the corporate world that exploits people for their talents, abilities and experience, and then spits them out unmercifully when they are no longer needed.