Alex Garland, who has built up a remarkable track record as both a novelist and screenwriter, makes his directorial debut with Ex Machina, a taut and scrupulously executed sci-fi thriller. Caleb (Domhall Gleeson), a coder at the world’s largest search engine, wins a competition to spend a week at the mountain retreat of his reclusive boss Nathan (Oscar Isaac), where he’s soon coerced into partaking in a classified experiment with female robot Ava (a triumphant Alicia Vikander). Ex Machina is a slow-burn clash of wits, sexes and intellect, cleverly performed by its trio and scripted by Garland to continuously mislead and alarm. It taps into real anxieties of modern technologies through the various tests conducted on Ava, when her individuality and state of mind is furthered, underlining the slim boundary between man and machine. Garland’s sparse, sleek direction combined with the one location setting up the tension factor no end, intensifying to a compelling conclusion. Ex Machina captivates immeasurably, with Garland skilfully fashioning a sci-fi thriller that exhibits – and fosters – a scarily real truth.