Broadcast Signal Intrusion really delivers on slow creeping atmosphere. Directed by Jacob Gentry and written by Phil Drinkwater and Tim Woodall, it riffs on a few classic movies (The Conversation, Blow Out and Zodiac to name a few) but it’s a credit to the film’s construction that nothing feels derivative.
Set in the late 1990s, Broadcast Signal Intrusion follows James (Harry Shum Jr.), a video archivist who is still reeling from the recent death of his wife. Tasked with transferring old television broadcasts to DVD, he accidentally comes across a series of sinister broadcast intrusions which feature eerie doll-like masked figures. Fascinated by the images, he tries to uncover who made them – and this takes him down a dark and very dangerous rabbit hole.
A modern (ish) noir, Broadcast Signal Intrusion is filled with small details and it’s ultimately a film with a tremendous about of cinematic character. I was really taken by the slow pacing and the low-key moments which were all about crafting tension. It could have been very easy for the film to go down the full horror route, but there’s a natural restraint to the screenplay and the direction which means the film resonates. It’s shares a few similarities with Prano Bailey-Bond’s recent arthouse chiller, Censor – both films are set in the past and deal with the power of visual imagery and the internal horror of human frailty.
Harry Shum Jr. fits perfectly into the noir mould, a man who thinks he’s one step ahead of the game when he’s really two steps behind. He makes for a haunted protagonist and you fully get to appreciate his downward spiral. Kelley Mack really impresses as Alice, the runaway who teams with James to help him solve the central mystery. If Broadcast Signal Intrusion has a break-out actor, then it should be her.
Shot on a modest budget, Broadcast Signal Intrusion impresses on a technical level and everything from the production design and cinematography to the music and editing his excellent. You really sink into the world of old pay-phones and mysterious VHS tapes. Retro has never felt so modern.
An immensely well put together piece of genre entertainment, Broadcast Signal Intrusion will impress those who like their films a little layered and opaque. The ending certainly doesn’t offer-up any easy answers – and that’s to be commended. It’ll be very interesting to see where its creative team goes next.