The Thirteenth Floor

Director: Josef Rusnak

Cast: Craig Bierko, Gretchen Mol, Vincent D’Onofrio, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Dennis Haystert, Steven Schub, Jeremy Roberts, Rif Hutton, Leon Rippy, Janet MacLachlan, Brad William Henke, Burt Bulos, Venessia Valentino, Howard S. Miller, Tia Texada, Shiri Appleby, Robert Clendenin, Rachel Winfree, Meghan Ivey, Alison Lohman, Dea Natasja Rosenmeier, Hadda Brooks, Ron Boussom, Ernie Lively, Toni Sawyer, Brooks Almy, Darryl Henriques, Suzanne Harrer, Lee Weaver, Geoffrey Rivas, Travis Tedford, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Andrew Alden, Johnny Crawford, Mary Ann Schmidt

In 1930’s Los Angeles, Hannon Fuller (Mueller-Stahl), a distinguished-looking older man, writes a letter to his most trusted friend on hotel stationary, “I wish I had never uncovered the awful truth...” He seals the letter, glances at the girl asleep on the bed and leaves a stack of 20-dollar bills on the dresser. After checking out of the hotel, Fuller walks into the ballroom. It’s a familiar place; people greet him by name. Fuller approaches the bartender, Jerry Ashton (D’Onofrio), and asks him to keep the letter, addressed to Douglas Hall, telling him someone will ask for it. In present-day Los Angeles, Douglas Hall wakes up in his apartment. Listening to his phonemail, he walks past glossy modern furniture to the bath and finds a bloodied shirt he cannot account for. A message from an LAPD Detective asks him to get in touch. At the Police station, Hall meets Detectives Larry McBain (Haystert) and Zev Bernstein (Schub). Hannon Fuller was found dead in an alley the night before, stabbed and robbed. Fuller was the owner of the computer research company where Hall has worked for the past six years. Hall, a computer software expert, is shocked by the news; he was Fuller’s protégé and his closest friend. When Detective McBain questions Hall about his whereabouts the night before, he tells him he flew into town from a business trip. At the company’s plush building, Hall meets Jane Fuller (Mol), who he is surprised to learn is Fuller’s daughter, just arrived from Paris. Jane soon meets with a lawyer. She intends to gain control of Fuller’s company and shut down the new virtual reality system the company has been developing. Her lawyer tells her as Fuller’s only kin she has a good case, but Fuller’s will leaves Hall in control of the company. McBain tells Hall that his flight’s arrival time was just early enough to allow for a drive to where Fuller was found dead, and Hall realizes that he’s a suspect in Fuller’s murder. Hall finds a phonemail recording left by Fuller just before he was killed, telling him he left him a message in the system. Dogged by McBain’s questions, Hall thinks he either killed Fuller and can’t remember it, or someone is trying to frame him. Determined to retrieve Fuller’s message, Hall goes to the company’s secret laboratory on the thirteenth floor. Surrounded by a vast array of computers and data storage units, Hall convinces a reluctant Jason Whitney (D’Onofrio), the lab administrator, to assist him in jacking into the system. The simulator’s electronic units are fully-formed, self-learning cyber beings, simulated human characters that think, work and eat like their creators. The prototype, still being tested, models Los Angeles circa 1937. From simulator records, Hall learns the places Fuller visited the last time he jacked into the system, and the individuals he interacted with. While jacked in, Hall’s body stays on the system’s couch while his mind experiences the simulated 1937 world. Hall, as John Ferguson, finds himself in a city with cable cars and brand-new 1930’s vehicles. The façade of the Wilshire Grand Hotel is imposing, and the building’s interior marvelously captures the essence of the era. Hall delves into the Los Angeles milieu that Fuller often visited, trying to find out what went on. He locates Jerry Ashton, but Ashton has opened and read Fuller’s letter and has plans and questions of his own. Hall has to exercise great caution in confronting the unexpected, for there’s a real-world killer about. The cinematography of Wedigo von Schultzendorff captures the slick texture of the computer lab as well as the nostalgic atmosphere of 1937 Los Angeles. Based on the novel Simulacron 3 by Daniel F. Galouye.

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