By Keith Allott | Sci-Fi
A reclusive sci-fi enthusiast develops a friendship with a customer service agent.

Arthur is a sci-fi enthusiast, with a passion for genre shows and memorabilia. While calling customer service about a problem with a recent order, he develops a rapport with a service agent named Katie. Katie seems friendly and easy to talk to, so much that Arthur feels a genuine connection to her.

When Arthur gets the package for his order replacement, he finds a note from Katie. Touched by Katie's personal touch, he tries to reconnect with her, only to discover that she isn't what she seems.

Directed by Keith Allott from a script by Kevin Richmond-Walls, this perceptive sci-fi short has the acuity and poignancy of a traditional drama, with its focus on the emotional landscape of its reclusive, isolated character. Though the narrative scope is confined to one live-action character in a room having two separate conversations with an off-screen character, the narrative goes deep and reaps insight into the fundamental human desire for connection, thanks to excellent writing and performances, steady pacing and disciplined camerawork.

We don't know much about Arthur or life outside his home. Instead, the storytelling is focused on the transformation that happens throughout a simple, seemingly quotidian conversation between him and Katie. Customer service has devolved into almost pure functionality, but Katie's deviations from the typical scripts surprise Arthur, especially when she bonds with him over his favorite shows. The writing captures the pleasures of making an unexpected connection and, more importantly, just how much light it brings to a lonely life. That loneliness is also implied by the tight, cramped way Arthur is shot, shrouded with shadows, alone in his workshop or living space.

Arthur and Katie's banter could border on flirtatious, but the appeal of it is not the promise of romance. Instead, in a life full of isolation, the film succeeds in capturing just how comforting and vital relating to another human being is, even on the simplest level. Actor Michael Muyunda's performance is a subtle and rich one, capturing a private, cloistered demeanor from too much time spent alone. But as he talks with Katie, Arthur is pulled out of himself by her easygoing chitchat, unfurling a wonder at connecting to another person so easily.

If "Lifelike" was a naturalistic drama, the story would likely go develop its themes of human connection towards a promising heart-warming conclusion. But it stays true to its sci-fi genre bona-fides, revealing a sharp interrogation of how technology can leverage and even manipulate our fundamental human needs. Created during a Covid-19 lockdown, the film evokes isolation deftly, as well as the sheer relief and joy of human communication. We are social beings, and we hunger for connection, recognition and relating. The film touches upon this truth with honesty and openness. But seeing that vulnerability betrayed in a small but piercing way is painful for Arthur, and for the viewer -- it's not quite dystopian, but piercingly unsettling.

You Might Also Like:


By Oliver Goodrum | Drama
A man who bullied a disabled girl tries to escape his past. Then an angry mob finds him.


By Candice Carella | Drama
A single mother leaves her young daughter with a rock musician uncle.


By Richard Prendergast | Drama
A single mother takes her family on a road trip. But it's to an unwanted destination.

Second Best

By Alyssa McClelland | Comedy
Twin sisters turn into rivals when one's gymnastics career steals the spotlight.

No More Wings

By Abraham Adeyemi | Drama
2 friends meet at their favorite fried chicken shop. But their lives have diverged.


By Gokalp Gonen | Animation
A man is trapped on a spaceship after his robot overseer finds every planet uninhabitable.

Feeling Through (Oscars)

By Doug Roland | Drama
A homeless teen meets a deaf-blind man who changes his life forever...


By Hadley Hillel | Drama
A man's suicide attempt rips a hole in the ceiling. Then he befriends the boy upstairs.

Dig Your Own Grave

By Kirk Larsen | Comedy
A man is forced to dig his own grave in the desert. But the ground is hard.

Call Connect

By Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell | Drama
A young helpline operator takes her first call and gets more than she expected.

More Than God

By Kev Cahill | Comedy
A devoted husband suspects his wife is cheating on him. Then he hides under the bed.

Welcome to Iron Knob

By Dave Wade | Comedy
A young boy accidentally shoots a stranger and the town tries to cover it up.


By Erika Davis-Marsh | Romance
A young dancer falls for a deaf guy, then tries to find her place in the world.

Toni With an I

By Marco Alessi | Drama
An awkward girl doesn't fit in at school. Then the Internet comes to save her.

The Things You Think I'm Thinking

By Sherren Lee | Drama
A burn-survivor goes on his first date after his accident.

Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.