FrightFest film review: Sequence Break
1980s nostalgia factor10
Cronenbergian body horror7
Martyn Conterio | On 27, Aug 2017
Director: Graham Skipper
Cast: Chase Williamson, Fabianne Therese, John Dinan
Watch Sequence Break online in the UK: 2018
With FrightFest back in London for the summer Bank Holiday, we catch up with the titles that have already been snapped up by subscription horror streaming service, Shudder.
It is both churlish and mean to berate or kick down a very humble, low-budget indie with big ideas, just because the filmmaker ultimately fails to pull off those big ideas in a satisfactory way. But there’s no getting past the fact Graham Skipper’s directorial debut, Sequence Break, is not the sum of its retro parts, nor a particularly fresh take on themes covered far more intriguingly and intelligently in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome (1983).
Oz (Chase Williamson) is employed as a video game technician, working for a chap who fixes up 1980s arcade machines. If ever a wiz there was, Oz isn’t so good with people. One day, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl named Tess (Fabianne Therese) walks into his life and yet neither her sunny personality nor her hotness can get him away from the games too long. At this juncture, the film is interesting enough, suggesting Oz is a bit of an obsessive man-child fixated on video games like many, well, man-children the world over – and even with a girlfriend to share this fixation with, he’s a bit of a selfish loner.
Things take a turn for the freaky, however, when a mysterious game starts to have a New Flesh-style effect on Oz and the film enters into surrealistic territory, where reality fragments and man begins to merge with machine, a move recalling Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo films, Cronenberg’s classic and 1992’s The Lawnmower Man. When Skipper turns up the crazy, though, Sequence Break becomes inarticulate instead of ambiguous; incoherent not dreamlike. As a critique of technology on body and mind, Skipper’s film is out of its depth.
Sequence Break also comes lumbered with the 1980s John Carpenter synth score du jour – seriously, enough of this – but it is well photographed and acted. An exercise in nostalgia, a love letter to Dave Deprave body-horror and 1980s video games (equivalent to cinema’s silent period?), while Sequence Break lacks in originality or profundity, its heart is in the right place, Skipper has a good eye for shot composition and the opening credits crawl is imaginative.
Sequence Break will be released in early 2018 by Shudder.