In the late 90s, a video archivist unearths a series of sinister pirate broadcasts and becomes obsessed with uncovering the conspiracy behind them.
Directed by Jacob Gentry (Synchronicity), the film stars Harry Shum Jr. (Crazy Rich Asians, Glee), Kelley Mack (Shot In The Dark, The Walking Dead) and Chris Sullivan (This Is Us, Agnes). The film was produced by Greg Newman (Stake Land, Girl On The Third Floor) and co-written by Phil Drinkwater and Tim Woodall. The feature is based on a short made in 2016 of the same name.
First impressions can often make or break a film, and Broadcast Signal Intrusion (BSI) really does quite a number on the viewer just a few minutes in. There is little character development or subtle plot building—instead, we jump headfirst into the mystery within the film’s opening scene. Fifteen minutes later and we are already knee-deep in some internet conspiracy dating back to the 80s; our lead actors and their personas and backstory revealed instead as we traverse the film’s central conundrum.
I’d say unique, but after the recent success of Netflix’s Archive 81, I expected a few more of these films to be doing the rounds. Film studios either race to see who can get their abduction film out first or pump funding into genre films after something succeeds at the box office (think 3D films after Avatar or the recent superhero trends). I feel like there have been a string of retro 80s and—more recently—90s themed mysteries ever since Stranger Things and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed them, BSI included.
The score has a very noir-detective feel, which—surprisingly—fit quite well with the overall giallo tone of the production. This purposely dated score helps keep the film feeling like it’s set in either the late 90s or early noughties. The colourisation though is the more modern blue with orange undertones that I have seen in probably more than half of the last ten films I’ve reviewed; it’s feeling a little overused. The production value is good but not great, with little in the way of flashy CGI and such, but I cannot complain about the acting, editing, or any other of the film’s technical aspects as it was a pretty solid production all around. The only thing I disliked was the soulless masked faces of the antagonists/victims/entities that were within the tapes. I just didn’t like the aesthetic, but I suppose that’s just me being nitpicky.
As for the mystery side of the film, we are given tidbits of neatly interconnected breadcrumbs which we can follow—as our protagonist does—leading us down the proverbial rabbit hole. Sometimes intentionally misdirecting, BSI remains entertaining and does manage to keep the viewer guessing for most of its runtime, which may be a negative for those of you that like to try and crack the mystery or solve the riddle before the film’s last act. There were, I feel, a few plot holes although those may have been intentional as the film does have a different kind of ending, one I will refrain from spoiling.
Harry Shum Jr. does a great job as James, our video archivist and conspiracy enthusiast. Although the film mostly follows James on his mystery-solving conundrum, Kelley Mack’s Alice goes a great job of leading James further down said rabbit hole. The pair had good on-screen chemistry and were fun to watch.
Overall, I’d say that it was an enjoyable mystery flick more than a horror, though there were definitely elements of the latter. Would it be something that I would outright recommend? Probably not. There are better films and shows out there that follow the same kind of narratives and this was a pretty decent reproduction of better titles that have come before. If you’re jonesing for a nostalgic mystery or have a thing for VHS quality horror reels, then sure, give this a go. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Broadcast Signal Intrusion arrives in UK/EIRE cinemas from 25th March, and on Digital Download & Blu-ray from 28th March. Poster and trailer below.
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