Directed by Jacob Gentry [Other horror films: The Signal (2007), My Super Psycho Sweet 16 (2009), My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 2 (2010), My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 3 (2012)]
I had higher hopes for this film after I read the brief synopsis. It sounded like a potentially solid film, and I was more eager to see this one than I have been for many of the movies I’ve seen in the past week. As it is, I don’t think Broadcast Signal Intrusion is a terrible movie, and it will work for some people, but I was ultimately unsatisfied come the finale.
Certainly the movie had a very unique vibe. It felt like a new-age version of Videodrome, almost, with a sort of isolation prevalent throughout the film, and elements of obsession, and paranoia too, playing a part. It’s not even a disengaging story – I enjoyed aspects of what the movie was going for. But I don’t think the finale really did all of these elements justice.
Honestly, it’s not an easy film to discuss. I found the conclusion a bit of a mess, and I was definitely hoping for more, especially given the fact they knew what they were doing as far as production went, as the movie looks quite nice and has solid cinematography. Even so, for a movie that almost lasts an hour and 45 minutes, I was expecting a decent amount more.
Harry Shum Jr. pretty much carried the film. I don’t mean that in a negative sense – he’s the focal character, and appears far more than anyone else. I personally don’t understand elements of his character, but as the film said, grief touches people differently; either way, Shum Jr.’s performance was strong. I also liked both Kelley Mack and Steve Pringle, though neither one really had quite the impact or importance I was personally expecting.
And perhaps a lot of this is on me. I was eager to watch the movie, but I didn’t really know what to expect from it. It’s not that Broadcast Signal Intrusion is incoherent or anything, but it can feel oppressive at times, and while I wouldn’t describe it as ‘confusing’, it can be hectic and heavy. There seems to be a lot of moving pieces, and it’s hard to see where different characters are coming from (such as Kelly Mack’s character, who is a mystery throughout, or Madrid St. Angelo’s character, who I didn’t get at all).
The largest drawback is the ending, which isn’t only inconclusive, but it think it gives us more questions than anything in the film managed to answer. In a way, I sort of get it – we’re warned constantly to not go down a rabbit hole of a potential conspiracy, lest we lose our sense of reality, so maybe not everything has the answers that we might be looking for – but even so, I can’t say that the final few minutes weren’t deeply unsatisfactory.
It’s also worth mentioning that the horror here is a bit muted. I mean, it’s definitely a horror film, I don’t want to give off the impression that it’s not, but aside from a few creepy dream sequences, a rather jolting ending, and a scene of an individual slitting his throat, there’s not a lot of traditional horror here, which is where the oppressive atmosphere (again, think Videodrome) plays a large part.
Another thing has to be said about the nature of the story. It takes place in 1999, and I think it does a good job showing technology as it was back then, from old chat conversations online to clunky video cameras and the like. Also, delving into a mystery of unsolved broadcast signal intrusions (think the Max Headroom hijacking from 1987) is a fascinating idea, and the mystery itself wasn’t bad, save for the ending.
In the end, I think that Broadcast Signal Intrusion had a decent amount going for it, but it’s not an easy movie to really explain and an even more difficult movie to really recommend. It’s probably worth seeing just to feel the vibe of the film, which is increasingly uneasy as it seems that the central character keeps making a mistake in digging deeper into the mystery, but I don’t know if that really makes it an enjoyable experience.
By no means a bad film, ultimately, I do feel that this movie falls a bit below average. It wasn’t without promise, and it did do some things right, but I don’t really think it’s much more than that, as much as I might wish otherwise.