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Nightmare Fuel / Terminator: Dark Fate

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"Clearly, you don’t know everything about this time. How anyone with phones is a walking sensor platform. How every intersection, or a gas station and 7-Eleven has cameras. Nobody walks in this world without leaving a digital trail a mile wide. And my guess is that Terminator, hunting her, can access that data anytime. You two won’t last ten hours."
Sarah Connor's brutal reality check to Grace

With director Tim Miller and producer/writer James Cameron at the helm of a new Terminator project, the scare factor being as strong as the original Terminator duology was a certainty - however, with the Darker and Edgier tone this film is taking, the two outdo themselves and ends up bumping up the terror a few extra notches.

All spoilers unmarked!

  • The opening of the film recaps Sarah's ranting breakdown from the previous (canonical) film, as the opening Vanity Plates play. Then, the audio cuts out to a haunting echo right at the end of her speech, then it cuts to a salty ocean shore, washing away the sand bit by reveal human skulls lying beneath the terrain. Sarah begins another chilling monologue as with Judgment Day, with Terminators rising up from the waters to cause chaos upon the desolated earth.
  • John Connor's death. He and Sarah are hanging out in a bar on the beach when a T-800 walks up and shoots him point-blank in the chest. Sarah tries to wrest the gun away from the Terminator, but the machine throws Sarah off and delivers the killing shot. He drops his gun and calmly walks away while Sarah cradles John's body in her arms, screaming his name, all while a demented version of the Terminator theme builds up until the title comes on-screen.
    Sarah: [as her past self sobs and desperately tries to resuscitate John] Once, I saved three billion lives. But I couldn't save my son. A machine... took him from me. And I... am terminated.
    • It's so much worse from Sarah's viewpoint. You've just defeated a megalomaniacal artificial intelligence and saved the world from certain destruction. You're relaxing on a beach with your son, proud that you protected him and that he can safely grow up to become the hero of the future. Right behind you comes an eerily familiar man with sunglasses...who then draws a gun on your child...
    • John's death immediately undoes much of the Villain Decay the Terminators have undergone in previous films. After the T-1000, T-X, and T-3000 failed to get the job done despite their steadily more advanced abilities, a T-800 akin to the one in the original film gets the drop on the Connors and kills John using little more than what made it so effective hunting humans in the future: Its ability to blend in, and the fact you don't see it for what it is until it's too late...
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    • Imagine how it is for John. Three years after losing the closest he had to a father figure, he suddenly sees what seemed like his "Uncle Bob" Back from the Dead...shooting at him with nothing but cold malice.
  • The glimpses we get of the future that Grace came from are horrifying. Grace had to experience the end of her world before she'd even hit puberty and her father was killed by a hungry mob for a can of peaches. When Grace joins the Resistance, we see a series of Rev-7s in action and they manage to be even more horrifying than the T-800s, using their liquid metal components to form tentacles and other alien shapes to utterly rip through Resistance soldiers, and they shrug off all but the heaviest form of munitions effortlessly. Grace's chilling words about the Rev-9 ("You don't fight it. You run from it.") makes a lot of sense.
    • The fact that the Resistance has willingly "augmented" its troops to fight against the Rev-7s deployed by Legion speaks of how desperate the Resistance has become in order to keep up in the fight for survival.
    • The Rev-7s we see in the future have no need to appear human, and so the audience sees them as the horrors they really are. The Rev-7s that attack the Resistance and maul Grace are almost amorphous in form, resembling nothing so much as vaguely humanoid masses of liquid metal covered in razor-sharp Combat Tentacles. Despite the sheer strangeness of their shape and movements, they still have the classic red eyes and skeletal grin.
    • Fridge Horror: Previously, the Resistance had plasma rifles they could use to great effect against SkyNet's HKs and Terminators. Developed, it would seem, by SkyNet to more effectively arm its mechanical troops. In this future, the Resistance seems to have only conventional weapons, and the Revs use only their own bodies to destroy their human opposition. Legion avoided perhaps SkyNet's greatest error; it elected not to sharpen its opponent's spears. . .
  • The Rev-9 makes for one scary robotic opponent, as per tradition.
    • Just the fact that it looks nowhere near as impressive or as intimidating as its predecessors. It can blend in anywhere at any time without needing to shapeshift and catch someone off-guard. And the scenes of it blending into human society are incredibly unnerving because the damn thing does it so well. There's virtually no way to tell that it isn't human until it starts killing.
    • Add in the fact that it can shed its "skin" to be in two places at once. Legion is apparently doing all it can to upstage Skynet in every way.
    • That's still nothing compared to the extent of its Scarily Competent Tracker capacities and the Sinister Surveillance it can perform in this regard. Cellphones, security cameras, surveillance drones, satellites... the Rev-9 can hack into anything connected, process millions of files in record time, and perform facial recognition to track down its prey. There might not be a single safe spot on Earth for Dani to hide for a sustained amount of time. Even Sarah's Ludd Was Right/Crazy-Prepared patterns can't escape it for too long. The Rev-9 can scan the entire Mexican-American border this way in just a few seconds and, from this alone, it determines exactly where Dani and her group are and exactly where in the United States they are headed.
      • Its access also allows it to weaponize human institutions, as shown when it has Dani captured by simply telling the Border Patrol about her group in the guise of a surveillance officer (it has, of course, cut the actual surveillance staff to pieces).
      • It's not just the idea of using surveillance technology to locate the target for termination that makes the Rev-9 creep-inducing. No, it's how fast he does it. Every time he uses this technique, so many images flash by his eyes as he looks for the one he must kill. If you blink at least once, he may have already searched through dozens of images.
    • There's also how it acts when it starts attacking. Compared to other Terminators, particularly Carl, who moved with an Unflinching Walk like he had all the time in the world... the Rev-9 goes from an unsettlingly human impersonator into a feral, animalistic demon that leaps and bounds and shreds everything in his path. It may be a machine whose sole purpose is to murder Dani, but such behavior makes it clear that it will obliterate everything that dares to obstruct his mission, and ferociously as well. Best exemplified when a dozen border patrol agents dogpile it to try and stop it. Pinned down by the mass of humanity, the Rev-9 simply uses its liquid metal exterior to stab them all repeatedly, while coldly staring at its target, just waiting for when pursuit can recommence.
  • Carl's first appearance in the third act is accompanied by a hellish, hollow distortion of "Uncle Bob's" leitmotif from T2, the same one that played during the sequence mentioned directly above. And then he turns to face Sarah.
    Carl: Sarah Connor.
    Sarah: [furiously tries shooting him immediately]
  • Rev-9 getting stabbed by Grace's power source, which is enough to overload him immediately and leave him flailing around, emitting electronic noises. And since this is also the first time a Terminator endoskeleton opens its mouth on its own, this may be the first time you get to see a Terminator screaming in agonynote .
  • Rev-9's first defeat. Carl and Grace wrap a chain over Rev-9's mouth, ripping his cheeks open while emitting a hellish zombie-like roar before Carl tosses him into an industrial turbine. You actually get to see him inside the turbine, the blades violently grinding and shredding at him as he's left desperately fumbling to regenerate, screeching all the way through until the turbine explodes, incapacitating everyone else. Worse? Rev-9 survives this, at the cost of his liquid metal half, one arm, and at least a few hydraulics and wires. Any other Terminator would have been completely obliterated from this.
  • The damage that Carl suffers in the final battle is nothing short of horrific, with half his face gone and his flesh ripped off his arm (followed by said arm's hand getting ripped off), before the rest of it burns away in a fire, revealing his endoskeleton for all to see. Then when the EMP goes off, his skeleton melts into the factory floor. And he still survives this, albeit very briefly.
  • Sarah had it bad with her exposure to the Terminator in the first film, with a stranger pulling a gun at her in a nightclub and later forced to go on the run. Dani's exposure is even worse. In the space of a few minutes, she sees her father (actually the Rev-9, who she later learned killed her father to fully impersonate him) about to shoot her. Then a stranger starts using a sledgehammer to fight him. And then, being dragged off in a high-speed car chase, seeing the nightmarish forms of the Rev-9, surviving a crash which injures her brother, and is then dragged off to safety as the car explodes. In the space of just a few minutes, her world has been crushed and her immediate family are dead, killed by something just to get to her.
  • With Legion rather than Skynet behind it, Judgement Day took a different but equally horrible form. Instead of nuking everyone, Legion simply turned off all the power, everywhere. Instead of Legion, humans used nuclear weapons, killing millions of people in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Legion. Eventually, though, the food ran out, and that was when the dying really started. By the time Legion started sending robots to kill people, starvation and fights over food had already almost finished the job.
    • Legion establishes itself as a more refined foe than Skynet with one simple yet chilling detail: It dropped the Rev-9 right on top of Dani's home address, missing her by seconds.
  • Carl's entire existential crisis, burdened with guilt for killing John when at the time he was just a mindless machine and completely helpless against his programming. Basically, if you can still root for Bucky after Captain America: Civil War, there's no reason he doesn't deserve the same sympathy.
  • The simple fact that history repeats itself is nightmarish, but it gets even worse when we think about it. Whatever happens, even if Legion is defeated, will not matter. As long as humanity (especially its warmongering stupidity) exist, humans will build an A.I for war which will go rogue, rinse, repeat. It feels like the Terminator universe can never have a good end.

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