Fantasia 2017: Sequence Break
Graham Skipper, who recently starred in Beyond the Gates and The Mind’s Eye, makes his directing-writing debut with Sequence Break - a film that revolves around relics of the past coming back to haunt us - in this case, the nostalgia for retro gaming.
Oz (Chase Williamson, star of John Dies at the End), an arcade game repairman who is soon to find himself out of a job, encounters a mysterious cabinet which slowly but surely warps his physical and psychological worldview.
The sequences where Oz interacts with the cabinet make for some truly revolting moments. In a Videodrome-esque manner, the physicality of the machine warps and molds itself around him, as he is drawn closer into its clutches. The effects work on display is tremendous for its otherwise lo-fi aesthetic, and the musical accompaniment by Van Hughes works wonders as well; appropriately synthy while reminding the viewer of a bygone era.
The horror sensibilities are countered through the film’s romantic subplot. Fabianne Theresa, Williamson’s co-star from John Dies at the End, plays his love interest Tess - a receptionist/writer with an affinity for all things gaming. Her presence allows for the film to adhere to a much geekier sensibility, and give the film something else to strive for outside of its darker elements. Though the film runs a brief 80 minutes, it has a definite sense of lack, with not enough going on to really sustain itself. It also suffers from having too many unoriginal ideas, most evidently its insipid twist that doesn’t take an eagled-eye viewer to deduce from the first act.
A tribute to ‘80s body horror flicks like Altered States and the weirder entries in David Cronenberg’s filmography, Sequence Break features some great effects against a murky premise. It comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a solid indie throwback, and while it comes up short in some areas, it makes for a decent debut for Skipper. Where he chooses to focus his interests on next should certainly be worth the wait.