Review: 'Broadcast Signal Intrusion' Not Much More Than a Creepy Curiosity

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday December 7, 2021

'Broadcast Signal Intrusion'
'Broadcast Signal Intrusion'  (Source:Dark Sky)

Bolstered by a great concept, but hindered by a tepid execution, Jacob ("The Signal") Gentry's latest thriller "Broadcast Signal Intrusion" has some lofty ideas that get lost along the way.

Harry Shum Jr. ("Glee") stars as James, a video archivist in the late '90s who is transferring VHS tapes to disc when he comes across a disturbing recording: A bland late night interview show is interrupted by video of a person in a featureless female mask. The person appears to be speaking, but the audio features several sounds layered on top of one another. After ten seconds or so, the signal is lost and returns to the talk show.

Intrigued, James starts to investigate. He learns that the event was newsworthy at the time, but no one could figure out where the signal came from, and it was dismissed. (This was before the days of the internet.) However, James learns that the signal happened again with a similar video some time later. And then again years after that.

He starts to obsessively investigate, which opens a can of worms that involve the murders of two women. He also begins to get stalked by someone who may or may not have the best of intentions.

The other question is: What this all has to do with him?

All these lingering mysteries will be answered — mostly. While the film has its creepy moments and a great premise, the story meanders a bit, and by the time we get to the climax, we're not as invested (or on the edge of our seat) as we should be. The film also ends on a nightmarish note that adds nothing to the story, and calls into question if anything was even real.

Shum, Jr. does his best at playing it like he's in "Seven," but he doesn't quite have the range to pull it off. There's something very "actor-y" about his work that reminds you that you're watching a movie and a performance.

Director Gentry gives his movie a slight grimy feel that works well not only regarding subject matter, but the setting — the grungy nineties — as well. (Although, to be fair, the lack of cell phones is the only thing that really points to the time period.) The videos that interrupt the broadcast are disturbing, and the history surrounding them is fascinating. (It involves an '80s sitcom character.) Truth be told, there are a lot of fascinating aspects to the story, and it has the makings of a classic thriller in the vein of "Silence of the Lambs," but it just can't get to that level of storytelling. The pieces are there, but they don't totally fit together.

With a tighter script and a more experienced lead performance, "Broadcast Signal Intrusion" could have been a crowd-pleasing thriller. Instead, it's a creepy curiosity that fails to tune into its station.

"Broadcast Signal Intrusion" is available on DVD and BLU 12/7


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Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.