If you love a mystery thriller, then Broadcast Signal Intrusion is the film for you, but beware, dear viewer, much like our protagonist, you could be left burrowing down that rabbit hole too. A great homage to the noir thriller.
In the late 90s, grieving video archivist James (Harry Shum Jr.) unearths a series of sinister pirate broadcasts and becomes obsessed with uncovering the conspiracy behind them.
As we find in Jacob Gentry’s interesting Broadcast Signal Intrusion, grief can lead us down many paths. We can sit and wallow; we can overthink; we can get anxious about the stress of handling it all. But, in James’ case, we can find something to distract and at the same time drive us, instead of just accepting our situation.
James’ quick obsession with the videos stems from discovering the missing third video aired on the same date his wife went missing, and so if he finds the tape, maybe he begins to find out what happened to his wife. But, of course, he is reminded here, there, and everywhere not to keep looking, that sometimes coincidences are just that. So is there really a big conspiracy here, or has James’ desperation as a husband simply gotten the best of him?
Harry Shum Jr allows James to spiral perfectly, ramping up his obsession until it is all he knows, too distracted by it to move on and focus on the now. He needs answers he surely knows will not come. He pushes his character to the limit, and although it verges a little on unbelievable from what we have seen beforehand by the final act. However, the previous moments allow for some forgiveness. The supporting cast all fulfil their roles accordingly, but with a script that wants to keep us guessing (almost to our own distraction), they are limited in what they can provide us. Which, in truth, seems to be the point of it all.
Writers Phil Drinkwater and Tim Woodall leave any suggestions as to what may be going on as James burrows his way down the rabbit hole. Yet, they equally leave as many red herrings and, as just mentioned, blur the line between conspiracy and coincidence. Nevertheless, it is an interesting idea that gets played out here in the film and one that, like its late 90s setting, has a throwback feel. You don’t really get films like Broadcast Signal Intrusion anymore, a Neo-Noir thriller that throws up all the questions and cherry-picks that it wants to answer.
The writers seemingly on purpose have left so many open-ended moments and thoughts to litter their film that you could easily come up with your own theory as to what the film meant and be safe in the knowledge that it is correct, only for someone else to have an utterly differing opinion that could make as much sense. By leaving things unanswered, the mystery deepens significantly. Which, in truth, could be to the detriment of the film. Itself. While it is great that it has us trying to figure it out for ourselves, we are swinging for the fences with our assumptions by not giving us enough concrete ideas to lay down. This can frustrate an audience, and by the end of the film, there was a hint of annoyance present with this writer.
We, like James, get swamped in the theories by giving us so many avenues to go down. Is Alice really who she says she is? Indeed her inclusion in the story is far too coincidental? This is but one of the multiple questions you ask yourself throughout the film, and with director Gentry not keen at all to answer those queries, we are left to stew. Alice is actually interesting to think about; she has a crucial role, for a while in the film and again seemingly on purpose, has such a thin reason to be joining James that you have to suspect her motives.
If you are not a fan of having your filmmaker explain nothing to you and to hold back as much as possible to leave events up to your own interpretation, then Broadcast Signal Intrusion may not precisely be the film for you. Regardless, there is something here for you with solid performances and a confident style.
Broadcast Signal Intrusion arrives in UK/EIRE cinemas from 25th March and on Digital Download & Blu-ray from 28th March.
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