Kill, Clone, Repeat
Spencer has a problem; he can’t stop himself from killing Ashley. Over and over again.
All That We Destroy is set in a not-too-distant future, where cloning technology is far-advanced. Spencer, a lonely and withdrawn artist living out in the middle of nowhere, waits for his beloved Ashley to awake. When she does, groggy and with no memory of the day before, he plays a song he dubs “our song” in hopes of jogging her memory. She doesn’t remember anything, and her reaction to her situation sends Spencer into a rage. He grabs her, chokes her out, and bashes her head into the floor. Once she is dead, Spencer drags her to a weird container outside the house and drops her into it. Here we meet Victoria, a scientist and mother of Spencer, who creates another clone of Ashley from the remains of the Ashley that was just killed. Is she seeking to find a cure for her son’s serial killer proclivities, or just keep him busy killing the same girl over and over again? It seems pretty clear she wants to save him and she thinks she can, by replicating Ashley but also programming her towards being the kind of person who will appeal enough to Spencer that he won’t kill her. Trial and error ensues, as multiple Ashley’s fail to meet the measure, and the all die the same way. Meanwhile, Spencer has met a new girl, a nearby neighbor named Marissa, and the two are kind of falling for one another. The closer Marissa gets to Spencer, the more of the truth she learns, putting her life at risk. Oh, and the cloned Ashley’s are starting to remember that they’ve been killed, and who their killer just might be…
This is a complicated film, with lots of science fiction, that never gets bogged down in those details or technical speculations. We’re given the premise and we run with it, caught up in the struggle of both Spencer and his mother and, later, in their repeat victim. All That We Destroy examines many different ethical layers when it comes to cloning and to the rehabilitation of serial killers. Are the clones real human beings or just test subjects? Can a serial killer be trained to ignore their impulses and live a clean life? If not, can the killer be satisfied with simply killing the same victim over and over again? And if this victim is a clone, are they really even human at all? Very interesting concepts and Destroy plays the string out pretty perfectly. All of the acting is top-notch and the story itself is very compelling. If it drifts and meanders here and there then it’s a forgivable sin. Destroy feels like a mash-up between the film Ex Machina and an episode of Black Mirror, so if either of those two properties did anything for you, you’ll enjoy this one.
By no means an intense suspense thriller, nor a gorefest, All That We Destroy delivers horror on an intellectual and philosophical level. This isn’t the kind of movie you sit down to eat popcorn to and cheer on the kills, but instead makes you think a little bit. If that sounds like a good time, you’ve found a new movie to enjoy.
Three Stars out of Four
All That We Destroy is streaming on Hulu