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Nightmare Fuel / The Animatrix

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The Animatrix, a series of animated shorts based on The Matrix trilogy, not only had some quite disturbing material, but half of it couldn't even be understood unless you were crazy or an art major.

Spoilers below.

The Second Renaissance

This two-part story has the highest amounts of Nightmare Fuel in the whole Matrix franchise by far, as it tells how the horrific war between humanity and the machines started, and how the machine eventually experimented on, dominated and enslaved humanity, with the Matrix as the culmination of said enslavement.

  • A gynoid is beaten to death by a crowd of human men. She is beaten and stripped of her clothes, and one attack strips off her synthetic skin. All the while, she screams out in agony, her voice becoming more machine-like with each blow. What makes that scene a lot worse is what the woman is screaming: "I'M REAL!"
  • The scene of the millionaire having his head crushed by his once-peaceful robot servant B1-66ER is disturbingly graphic.
    • Less graphic, but no less disturbing, are the scenes of what B1-66ER had done before that (stomped on the millionaire's dogs to death and murdered various other people).
  • Operation Dark Storm. Just the idea of it, that humanity reached a point of desperation so unheard of, that they would completely destroy Earth by blocking the Sun through a nanite cloud is horrifying. In denying the machines access to solar power, humanity in the process ensured that if they won the war, it would be the ultimate Pyrrhic victory; without the Sun, the extinction of every animal, plant and biosphere on Earth is all but guaranteed. The nanite cloud also had the added effect of having no way to disable it (or if one was developed, it was lost) and anything that flies through the cloud shuts down and plummets back down. Whoever won the war, would be imprisoned on a dead husk of a planet. In fact, 600 years after the fact, the machines still haven't figured out a means to disable it.
    • In addition, the operation is called a "Final Solution" by the Narrator. Humanity was so hell-bent on winning, they equated it with Hitler's plan for total genocide of a race, one of the most inhumane acts in recorded history.
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  • Everything about the actual war between Man and Machine is horrific. It is presented with a visceral and unblinking portrayal that leaves no room for any interpretation other than "holy shit, this is fucked up".
  • That said, there is one specific scene that deserves a highlight. During one of the battle scenes, a soldier has the front of his power armour ripped open by a Sentinel, which coils its tentacles around his torso and rips him out, leaving his arms and legs strapped in the armour. The worst part is way the man is screaming "OH GOD, HELP ME!" right until he dies.
    • The scenes of war show off the machines' rapid physical evolution from humanoid designs to completely alien forms, as well as their ability to shrug off multiple nuclear strikes mid-battle—but the power armour scene implies something far worse. The machines could have killed him in a quick and efficient manner, as you would think a machine would do. Instead, the Sentinel rips the soldier out by his torso, seemingly because it was in a position to do so. The machines are now capable—perhaps even fond—of commiting acts of great cruelty. Given the history of humanity's treatment of the machines and the fact that machines have artificial intelligence, however, this should not be surprising. After all, as The Instructor says, "man made the machine in his own likeness".
      • The fact that the camera interface implies it's being taken from the point of view of a Machine makes it worse. Not only does it imply that this man's horrific death is being recorded, but it also implies that he's either surrounded by multiple Sentinels just watching this occur or the Sentinel that killed him re-positioned it's head to get a better angle.
      • And what's detailed below reveals that that guy who got torn apart and died? He was one of the lucky ones.
  • The machines surgically operate and experiment on prisoners of war—while the prisoners are awake.
    • They are then entombed into the power plants, violently plugged in and forced to endure untold agony for the rest of their lives. As The Instructor puts it: "The first captives suffered in pain and horror, enroute to what the machines viewed as the humans' version of a 'perfect world'." The visuals and the painful moaning do not lie at all.
  • A fair amount of the imagery in this short reaches a new level of disturbing when you learn that most of it is based on real events. Some choice selections include an attempted Tiananmen Square-style protest where a robot is graphically crushed beneath tank treads, giant bulldozers shovelling what could be thousands of robot corpses into mass graves, and scenes of rioting robots either gunned down as they surrender or shot in the head at point blank range while handcuffed.
  • One the worst parts is that—judging by the obvious bias in the supposed "historical record"—the machines are as prone to arrogance, self-righteousness, and all other human failings as we are. It is as if the human race quadrupled in capacity for terror, the Three Laws be damned. And yet, there is another, far more frightening implication: By preserving the human race in the pods, the machines believe they are keeping the human race safe.
    • Hell, everything related to humanity's current state—the cloning farms, the Matrix, the army of robotic killing machines that scour the tunnels for escapees—exists due to a massive act of mercy on behalf of the machines. The Matrix exists just to ensure that humanity can never threaten to annihilate the machines again without an outright genocide—of both sides.

The other shorts

  • "World Record" is about a track star who almost manages to break out of the Matrix of his own free will. At the last moment, his muscles snap, which ultimately confines him to a wheelchair in a catatonic state. We are never told if the Agents have something to do with it (they were aware of him) or if it was simple human failing. The realistic-yet-exaggerated animation did not help. The short ends with him trying to get up again despite being wheelchair-bound; he almost succeeds, but falls down again.
    • Even worse: He did break out on his own, and we see him briefly "waking up" before he is forced back into the Matrix via painful-looking electric shocks.
    • The ending is either a Hope Spot or a Heroic Second Wind; the viewer gets to decide which.
  • In "Beyond", there is the big, black nothingness that Yoko encounters in the "haunted" house. There is nothing there. Literally. A seemingly endless void caused by a series of glitches right behind generic doors. From the viewer's point of view, this is a random error in the simulation. From Yoko's point of view, it is downright horrific.
  • "Program" has some nightmare fuel in the form of Duo's role within the program. Despite only being part of a training program, his words and actions have an actual effect on Cis's emotions and feelings. She jokes about Duo proposing to her when the simulation starts, which makes her later killing of Duo all the more devastating. The short never fully explains if Duo is a wholecloth fabrication or a creation based on someone Cis knows (or loves). But the possibility of a relatively minor program created from scratch having the ability to make Cis feel love toward him, even after the test is over, is mind-numbing.
    • There is an even worse option: Duo is a real person, so even if the one from the simulation is a fake, it's still based on someoneone Cis knows and is close to. This would mean the program forced Cis into "killing" her beloved after convincing her that she is in a real situation instead of a set-up. That would not only make her ordeal even more painful, but also paint the people who created and put her through this test as a group of outright bastards who could take pleasure in openly toying with her emotions.


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