goliad uprising box

Goliad Uprising

Waterbearer Films,

Paul Bright

Shannon Lark,
Aaron Weisinger,
Paul Bright,
Cynthia Schiebel,
Matthew Charles Burnett,
Mike Justice

Unrated, 98 minutes

Future Shock
by Michael D. Klemm
Posted online February, 2013

goliad uprising

The internet is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand we have the convenience of e-mail and the ability to access almost unlimited information. It has also been a positive instrument for social change. On the flip side, identity theft is easier, our web searches can be tracked, and hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church can post websites like

goliad uprisingGoliad Uprising, the latest effort from independent filmmaker, Paul Bright (Abrupt Decision), offers a nightmare scenario for the internet’s next generation. In a not too distant future, the latest rage is BCI technology from Goliad Industries. An earpiece allows the brain to interface with the internet and people can literally surf the web on their retinas without a computer or smartphone screen. But the government is using these devices to brainwash the populace. A band of dissonants is trying to warn the nation before it’s too late. They are labeled terrorists.

goliadThe film opens with what looks to be a rave party. Anarchists have assembled for a clandestine performance of The Prophet Play – which we later learn has been banned for inciting civil unrest. A “good citizen” calls the authorities, and the gathering is raided by National Security police, rifles aimed. We are in an Orwellian future where you can’t trust anyone and no one is as he or she seems.

goliad uprisingOur unlikely hero is David (Aaron Weisinger), a janitor at Goliad’s corporate headquarters. David is an everyman with a bit of a rebellious streak. He feeds the mouse in the breakroom. He swipes a BCI manual from the head programmer’s trash and takes it home. His life is turned upside down when he meets Ariel (Shannon Lark) in one of the oddest “meet cutes” I have ever seen. She is in a dumpster looking for her cellphone when David throws out some trash. She flirts with him and asks to use his cellphone to call hers so that she can find it when it rings. The sound of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries wafts up from the trash. She retrieves her phone and gives David back his, while striking a sexy pose on the dumpster’s edge. Back home, David keeps thinking about her. When he suddenly gets a text message from Ariel to meet her at sunset, he initially ignores it – he’s more interested in the contraband BCI manual. But then his curiosity (or horniness) gets the better of him and he heads to the street corner where Ariel texted she’d be.

golid uprisingHe doesn’t get the reception he expected. A number of people are waiting there and Ariel is angry because she must have sent him the text by mistake. But, as long as he’s here, does he want to come to a secret party? After David and everyone else surrender their “electronics” so that they can’t be traced, he finds himself at a performance of The Prophet Play in a vacant house. Everybody welcomes David with a hug and the atmosphere has a 1960s hippie vibe. Then the party is raided by National Security and our fledging couple barely gets away. Fearing that she will get caught, Ariel gives David a memory stick to keep safe. When she shows up at his home for the flash drive the next day, things begin to get complicated.

goliad upisingGoliad Uprising isn’t really a gay movie, but it was made by a prolific, and openly gay, independent filmmaker. This is also director Bright’s second foray into science fiction. His first was 2010’s Altitude Falling - a gay love story set against a sci-fi canvas. Goliad Uprising has a heterosexual couple at its center but there are incidental queer touches. Ariel mentions an ex girlfriend. David’s roommate, Quinton (Matthew Charles Burnett), is gay. Quinton and his new live-in boyfriend, Jordan (Mike Justice), are shirtless for most of their screen time. I said before that the story gets complicated. For starters, Jordan is one of the National Security cops who raided The Prophet Play.

goliad uprising paul brightA plausible science fiction premise is used to satirize modern politics. Consider the evil Secretary Ingram (Bright), a major power player in Washington and former CEO of Goliad Industries. Sound familiar? Dick Cheney and Halliburton? Ingram lies to the press; he is still running the show at Goliad from the shadows, and he is behind the brainwashing software. He assures the skeptical main programmer (Cynthia Schiebel) that all they are doing is making people feel good when they think about the President. “It would be unpatriotic,” he states, “not to support the President in this time of crisis.”

goliad uprisingThis is certainly Bright’s darkest film to date. There are many surprises in the script and I will leave them for the audience to discover themselves. Let us just say that David is like Cary Grant in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, an ordinary man trapped by circumstances beyond his control. National Security has found the stolen BCI manual in his bedroom and now he is all over the News, painted as a terrorist who caused a train derailment. The situation is dire, but the ensuing tension between the reluctant hero and the femme-fatale is the source of much comic relief. She’s a free spirited anarchist, and he’s in over his head and realizing that he can’t turn back.

goliad uprisingThere are a few holes in the story. Goliad Uprising isn’t perfect but I found it far preferable to any of Hollywood’s latest excuses for a science fiction movie where lots of things blow up real good. (And don't get me started on most of the SYFY channel's original movies.) There are ideas in this film. Granted, some are developed and executed better than others. I wasn’t thrilled with the ending, although I found the epilogue to be unsettling and brilliant. The main characters are fun and they underplay the comedy at just the right level. There is danger and a villain you can hate.

goliad uprisingThe script has many nice touches. I liked when the harmless, old woman protester held up a sign that said “BCI IS BRAINWASHING” at a press conference and, afterwards, a paranoid Secretary Ingram screams at his security officer and asks how a “suicide bomber” got in the auditorium. There is also the irony that Ingram is manipulating millions of minds while his wife is her own woman and defies him at every turn. I also liked the scene where the newscaster interviews a young techno-geek who loves his new BCI earpiece. “I’m watching myself on TV right now while I’m talking to you!” the kid declares, rapturously. That was an astute comment on our own plugged-in times and I found nothing far-fetched about that scene at all.

goliad uprisingThe cast does a nice job. The leads are sexy, but not in a Hollywood glitzy way. Bright’s films are usually a family affair and it was nice to see a couple regulars back in supporting roles. Cynthia Schiebel has appeared in all of Bright’s films, and Matthew Charles Burnett starred in Theft and Aaron…Albeit a Sex Hero. They each add their own special flavors.

goliad uprisingDon’t expect the film to look like Star Wars, and don’t judge it on those grounds. The great Francois Truffaut's version of Fahrenheit 451 doesn't look much different from the sixties, the era when it was filmed. Real science fiction is about ideas and not hardware. Okay, the movie hardly looks “futuristic” but I think that is the point. This could be happening a year from now… in fact, the day after I watched Goliad Uprising, I read a news story about how to be a test subject for the new Google Glasses that you can surf the internet with. Do you ever get the feeling that technology might be moving a little too fast?


More On Paul Bright:
Aaron...Albeit A Sex Hero
Altitude Falling

Abrupt Decision

Cynthia Schiebel also appears in:

Aaron...Albeit A Sex Hero
Altitude Falling
Abrupt Decision

Matthew Charles Burnett also appears in:
Aaron...Albeit A Sex Hero

Abrupt Decision