Monday, October 9, 2017

Beyond Fest 2017 Review: Sequence Break

Beyond Fest showcases so many strange and new films and this year they did it again with Sequence Break, a shoestring budget, sci-fi/horror movie about an evil arcade machine. The obvious nods to Cronenberg's Videodrome hit you heavy with visuals so creepy they'll make you re-think about playing in an arcade late at night....I mean if you can find one.

Before going into the full review, just have to give thanks to Beyond Fest for letting me attend and it's wonderful screenings and guests. That night, at this free screening of Sequence Break, mind you, Beyond Fest has a ton of free screenings, I enjoyed the lobby filled with fans and merch tables selling all kinds of goodies. From the night before they gave us leftover Hellraiser cubes/Lemarchand's box. Before the show even started, we got to see a t-shirt gun fired at audience members. It's always a fun night with extras at Beyond Fest. Still going on now, check out the remaining screenings.

Sequence Break stars Chase Williamson as Oz, a down-on-his luck arcade machine technician whose about to lose his job. He's joined by a unrealistic-on-how-cool-she-is nerd girlfriend, Tess played by Fabianne Therese.

Oz meets Tess around the same time a mysterious arcade game enters the equation. Oz futzes around with it on the side as he starts getting into a relationship with Tess. Also entering the picture is a creepy homeless man that's stalking Oz.

Now Oz first plays with this strange new game causing him to get sick quick. He's starting to see things not as they're are, like's he's going crazy. It doesn't get better as we see Oz and the machine having what some would call playful intercourse. Weird,  squishy intercourse.
This is where some of the effects really shine as the arcade machine housing the strange new game starts having a bio-mechanical feel. Arcade machines should never be so soft an squishy. Some sort of goo layers start covering the inner workings of the machine. A viscous layer of what looks like infection starts forming too. It's not good that Oz is throwing up black goo too.

At the same time, Tess and Oz are hitting it off. I can't remember the last time I saw such natural nerd dialogue and it didn't seem forced. You start really liking the characters.

Things start tail spinning into a real mess as playing the game a night, sort of like an addiction, starts making Oz sick and seperate from Tess. All the while a creepy homeless man remains on the sidelines. Finally, we crash land into ideas about two different timelines and a sort of video game Hell for Oz. I'm not going technical on purpose, because you can try and figure out what sort of mess Oz has made out of reality on your own. Oz has to reset the game and his life if he ever wants out of his own game.

Now I liked some of the concepts a lot. And can't deny liking the characters. But it does suffer from the small budget. I wanted a few more characters and locations.

On gore and weird stuff happening I wanted more again. There's some face melting action! Truly, I love practical effects like a hand breaking apart and wires coming out of people. I wanted that and a arcade-human hybrid baby. Some more real pure gross-out moments.

Sequence Break, doesn't break the mold on sci-fi horror, it just adds a bit of nostalgia to fans of playing in arcades. Director/writer Graham Skipper in his other work always seems to come close to pushing the movie to a point that it should take more risks, but he never just pushes beyond that. At Beyond Fest, you gotta keep going out there.