Whilst channel surfing on TV late one night it becomes clear that different stories on different channels are all connected, parts of the same story – a story that must never be told, containing footage that must never be seen.
Starring Vernon Wells, Felissa Rose, Dave Sheridan, and Sadie Katz, Transmission was directed and written by Michael Hurst, a self-proclaimed veteran of B-movies with twenty years of experience under his belt. To paraphrase Hurst, he stated that after directing B-movies like Room 6, Paradox, and Pumpkinhead 4, as well as a few TV episodes, he made the decision to attempt and do something that no producer would typically “let” him do. He was determined to make a bolder, stranger, and more original movie, hopefully told in a fresh way.
The end result of this insane science experiment, Transmission is most certainly something….different. Conflating “good” and “different” here will definitely be subjective and a matter of taste. Hurst’s fever-dream film is somewhat akin to an anthology, but only loosely so. While the many intersecting plots do eventually coalesce into one unified story, the sub-stories are told in bits and pieces, as if one were to be flicking through channels on late-night cable. It’s an exciting concept that did—in a broader sense—work as intended, but the segments themselves were also of the quality of late-night cable.
The segments that intertwine involve a documentary detailing the downfall of the greatest horror director that you’ve never heard of, a string of murders and kidnappings reported by a local news team, some teen romance drama, an Event Horizon-esque sci-fi, and one or two more threads that weave Hurst’s tapestry together. The overall aesthetic has that low-budget, late-night vibe, which is not necessarily a bad thing. As the film starts to make more sense and the threads are pulled tighter and tighter together, the plot itself becomes more defined, leaving us with a far more coherent story than we expect when the film begins—and in that sense, Hurst’s vision absolutely succeeds.
While the film may have succeeded in accomplishing what it set out to do, one must ask, “But at what cost?” Or perhaps, the lack of cost. It is clear that, without a backing production company, this film was a labour of love paid out of pocket on an indie budget. A substantial indie budget by the looks of things, but indie nonetheless. The production value is therefore not in the wheelhouse of this year’s more successful and well-known titles, but I’d absolutely fight anyone who said there was any less passion and heart put into this project. When one considers the scale of each and every element that when into the creation of Transmission, one cannot help but admire the grandiose vision and scale of the project, especially when considering Hurst’s, “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself.” attitude.
Transmission is an enjoyable watch if you’re somewhat familiar with indie films and smaller-budget features. It is clearly a passion project carefully crafted from an idea long awaiting realisation. If you can forgive the B-movie feel and enjoy the bizarre cosmic horror that the film sets out to tell then I’d have to say that this is a highly recommended film…but if you’re looking for a big-budget, SFX-heavy, AAA feature then you’d best steer clear. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. The trailer and poster are below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.