The year is 2025 and the city Durban. Binary code streams into oblivion before assimilating into the night sky. A super wide shot of the city’s golden mile is shown with its skyline and flashing holographic adverts all adding to the futuristic look and feel of the city: WELCOME TO WAVE CITY explodes across the sky.
Suddenly we drop into first person POV. It is night time and we are between two piers in a luminescent ocean. We are sliding down a wave, into a barrel because we are the surfer and then we wipe out.
It’s an augmented reality experience and it is all live: There’s a teenage kid standing on the crowded beach, he selects another surfer and puts his goggles back on. He is ready to surf.
DAYNE: twenty three, a scruffy looking local, skates through the crowd taking in the virtual sights that surround him. He stops to help a sexy high tech fashion victim who has just been mugged. Elsewhere, in a tunnel beneath the iconic Moses Mabhida stadium, TREY, a young CYMA activist hacks into SUBTEK— a phallic looking tower behind the Stadium. The tower is home to VNET, the global augmented reality network that everybody uses.
Later, Dayne sits and attempts to write code in his untidy bachelor pad. He is creating a PLUG-IN, an audio file that results in drug like effects, but is battling. So Dayne seeks the help of a virtual online doctor, one that diagnosis him as a tone deaf synesthete—someone who can see sound.
Across town in a warehouse that overlooks the harbour, the owner of SKYCLUB and Dayne’s handsome older brother JESSE, twenty eight, isn’t impressed as he talks to his girlfriend Elle. They are discussing Dayne being late again. The pretty twenty five year old French woman is the love interest of both brothers.
Picture a black Lara Croft: ZOOKI, twenty six, is graduating as a Subtek agent. She listens as CEO OSHA MANSON delivers a charismatic speech about freedom. The top of her class, Zooki soon finds herself being escorted to a highly classified and restricted bunker, this is where Manson introduces her to the menacing little man, VANDER, and shows her the grid—a sonar visual network that allows VNET to see and hear everything.
When Dayne finally arrives at the SkyClub we see that he is a minor celebrity, in the surreal world of ‘shifting’ and audio drugs. Trey, fleeing Subtek agents, slips Dayne an SD card which goes unnoticed as tension amounts between the brothers and Ella. The tension hits boiling point when, after a falling out with Ella over Jesse, Dayne leaves the party rejected.
On the SD card is an APP which contains the back door codes to VNET’s Grid. Dayne, unaware that he will be disconnecting himself from the grid, runs the app and flips out. As a result of the disconnection, Dayne wonders around Durban spaced out until he is rescued by Ella and Jesse.
Down from the high, Dayne soon realizes that something is very wrong when his eyes begin to change. He then confesses to running the app, which Jesse and FIX, believe is malware. Jesse, Fix, Elle and Dayne pay a visit to BARKER, a traditional healer who also moonlights as a bio-hacker. Barker breaks the news that Dayne has run a highly classified app which contained a code that has now made him immune to Subtek’s subliminal control. This puts Dayne and his friends in danger as Subtek will do everything in their power to make sure that the app, with that code, never gets used on the public. The only solution it seems is for them ALL to run the app and disconnect from the Grid.
Zooki joins Vander’s team, and upon induction is implanted with a tracker that is for so called security reasons. She is dispatched to arrest the criminals that have used to the illegal app. Vander shows his true colours by using Zooki’s implant to take control of her body while she is on her mission. He uses this opportunity to show Zooki his real power by sexually assaulting her with her own hands, showing that he pulls the strings.
Now on the run, the unplugged renegades hide out at the brother’s parent’s beach house. There, Dayne and Ella finally hook up which causes Ella to flee the next morning and Jesse and Dayne to fight. Needing space, Ella returns to her apartment and is then arrested by Zooki. She is taken to the underground bunker where she will be questioned.
Barker introduces Dayne to Abbott who is the leader of the CYMA rebels, the same team that Trey had belonged to. Dayne and Abbott strike a deal that will result in CYMA rescuing Ella, all Dayne will need to do is code a specific tone called the Delta pathway— an infrasonic frequency that humans can’t hear.
Meanwhile Ella is introduced to Mason and is tortured. Vander then implants her with same control device that he is so fond of, he hides hers in her nose ring. Abbott plays his trump card, he has evidence that Vander killed Zooki’s sister and covered it up so that it would look like a suicide. With this evidence he gets Zooki to turn on Subtek and smuggle Ella out.
Dayne in turn learns about the Delta, the brain frequency that makes subliminal control possible. It is a vibration that only he can see because of his synaesthesia. With both the Delta and the Grid Codes, CYMA hopes to free the millions of people that Subtek controls effectively starting the revolution that Abbott has been planning.
Dayne and crew agree to collect Ella from Zooki at a seedy bar. No one is aware of the implant in Ella’s nose ring, the one that allows Vander to take possession of Ella and shoot at everyone. In the ensuing gun fight Ella is killed by Zooki. The tragedy is highlighted further when we slip into Ella’s POV, experiencing her death in agonising, binaural clarity.
Ella’s death is the breaking point for Dayne and all he wants is revenge against Vander who stays hidden in his underground bunker. The only way for Dayne to achieve his revenge is to Code the Delta pathway and bring down the Grid. It is at this time that Abbott reveals his true identity; he is the mysterious Drew Darko, the man who invented the BLACKBIRD code, the sonic binary algorithm that powers the Grid. Dayne fully commits to coding the Delta and agrees to release it with the App at the party that will be happening at the Stadium.
Meanwhile, Zooki and the others are on a mission to find the transmission source for Subtek’s control signal. It is somewhere in the Stadium. Without anyone’s knowledge, Jesse contacts Vander. He reveals himself to be a double agent and inadvertently gives away CYMA’s location as well as the groups. The group ends up trapped in the Stadium and arrested, Jesse too, even after Zooki puts up a good fight. Vander has out deceived them all.
Subtek storms the CYMA hideout and Dayne and Abbott are captured. Manson uses the same implant technology and takes possession of one of his soldiers. He then uses the soldier to kill Abbott without even needing to be in the same room; Manson has finally gotten his revenge on his rival Darko. Dayne is then taken to meet Manson face to face, so that he can be offered a simple deal: He must complete the Delta Code for Manson or Jesse and the rest of the crew will all die horribly.
High above the Stadium, on the Sky platform, Vander is once more in control of Zooki’s body. This time he forces her to tie a rope around her neck but moments before she hangs herself, Zooki gouges the implant out. She pounces on Vander and slips the noose around his neck.
Jesse, Fix and Barker watch as Dayne is dragged on stage, there is a gun to his head. Manson is forcing him to code the Delta live while on stage at Wave City’s summer party rages on in full swing.
Dayne, fully immersed in the Grid, sees the very heart of the subliminal audio that is being used to control the masses. Abbott then appears in this virtual dimension and gives Dayne his final instruction. Dayne, using sound, manages to disarm Manson before coding the Delta and releasing the app in a binaural, audio visual climax. It crashes the Grid and plunges the Stadium into total darkness and panic.
Cut off from the rest of the world the much sought after freedom soon turns to chaos as government troops lock down Durban, effectively quarantining the city in hopes of stopping the spread of a dangerous audio virus. The sole communication: Government controlled radio propaganda.
Slipping through security, the app, now hidden in a mielie, finds its way to Johannesburg and into the hands of a notorious drug dealer. Is it a virus? Or is it the key to freedom?
The closing scene, the only flashback shows Abbott as a twelve year old. He tries to remove a birdcage from a tree so that he can free the bird. The cage falls and hits him on the head and the door swings open allowing the BLACKBIRD to fly free. The bird flies into streams of binary acoustic code and a dubstep remix of the Beatle’s song plays.