SXSW 2021: Broadcast Signal Intrusion, Offseason | Festivals & Awards


The script from Tim Woodall and Phil Drinkwater plays out like a blockbuster adaptation of the Chicago incident, with added pieces that don’t all work. Kelley Mack initially enters the movie as Alice, an amiable stalker who prods her way into James’ investigation, but the character itself feels rather inconsequential, aside from how she gives the film’s main hunter someone to interact with. And in creating a narrative from this true, bizarre event, the crucial momentum isn’t always there. In the middle of the plot, right when it should be picking it up, it works less like a maze than a straight line with check points, leading to a long-winded monologue by of the script’s many suspicious characters. Sometimes the mystery is not as exciting as you want it to be, especially with the other promising features around it. 

Though the movie is set in the late ‘90s, it’s built from the paranoia of the ‘70s and ‘80s, with James’ investigation recalling Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Conversation,” or split-diopter shots that make obvious nods to Brian De Palma. For good measure, there’s also tips to David Fincher’s grimy worlds in “Seven” and “Zodiac,” reflected here with this film’s Chicago environs. The ease to identifying this movie’s references are almost a fault, but it’s exciting to see Gentry use them for freaky riffing and with Shum Jr.’s raw performance leading the way. So long as it keeps us going from one strange revelation to the next, “Broadcast Signal Intrusion” works. And those masks are truly scary, long before James get more info about who is behind them. 

There’s something mind-bogglingly unoriginal about “Offseason,” the latest movie from “Darling” and “Psychopaths” director Mickey Keating. The story, of a grieving daughter named Marie (Jocelin Donahue) traveling with her partner (Joe Swanberg) back to the ominous tourist destination island where her mother grew up, plays out exactly as you expect, it’s just been shot with more style than generic scripts are usually treated with. Even a standout actor like Richard Brake appears as The Bridge Man, but is most memorable for the unusual way that Keating’s camera frames him. With a movie as frustrating as this, I can’t tell if the filmmaking throws Keating’s script under the bus or if it truly saves the movie from being completely forgettable. 

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