#SXSW: “BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION”
Review by David Baldwin
It is 1999, and James (Harry Shum Jr.) is working late nights as a Video Archivist. One evening, he discovers a bizarre broadcast that aired over top of the regular programming he archives. He watches curiously multiple times, trying to understand who or what it is. Once he finds out there may be more pirated broadcasts in existence and how they may have a personal connection to him, James becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth.
At first glance, I assumed BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION would be a body Horror Thriller in the style of David Cronenberg. Much to my surprise, the Film is more of a hard-boiled detective mystery filled with disturbing imagery. It is not particularly bloody or horrific imagery, though you may need to sleep with the lights on after seeing it repeated so often. The Film Noir motifs add some flavour and style to each scene, as does the score cribbed from classic Detective Thrillers. I appreciated how intense the Film gets and how well paced it is, but would have preferred it be less frustratingly enigmatic – even as we learn the truth about the pirated broadcasts.
Shum Jr. is great as James, with his moments of frantic obsession being among the highlights of the Film. He is tuned into the creepiness of the project and matches its intensity beat for beat. He could have been even better if he were afforded more time to unpack his motivations. Kelley Mack is effective yet slightly undercut in her role as Alice, who helps James with his investigation. But the Film’s standout is Chris Sullivan, who gives such a seriously unhinged performance in his short amount of screen time that it may be difficult to ever see him as the lovable Toby on This Is Us ever again.
BROADCAST SIGNAL INTRUSION screens at SXSW: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 9 PM ET.