Sequence Break: A young man finds himself inexplicably drawn to a video arcade game in this head-spinning science-fiction thriller.
Graham Skipper starred in last year’s Beyond the Gates; this year he steps behind the camera with Sequence Break. Starring his Beyond the Gates co-star, Chase Williamson, Sequence Break moves from a possessed VHS board game to a sinister and likely sentient arcade game.
Williamson plays Oz, a lonely young man who spends his days fixing arcade games and his nights playing those games, whilst all the time dreaming of creating his own game. Sadly, his boss reveals that business isn’t doing so well and that the shop will be closing up. At exactly the same time, a new and mysterious game is dropped off and it seems to have a strange hold over Oz. Also at the same time, Oz meets Tess (Fabianne Therese); the pair strike up a relationship, but soon the new game starts to cause trouble for the fledgling lovers. And then things start to get weird, really weird…
So weird in fact, that we’re not entirely certain of what truly transpired in the svelte eighty minute run time, and yet we enjoyed the ride. As events spiral we enter into a strange and bizarre hybrid of Tron and Existenz, and whilst I can’t for sure say I entirely ‘got it’, the visuals are stunning and exceptionally imaginative. The effects team have managed a lot on what would have almost certainly been a limited budget. Sequence Break seemed to be to highlighting the struggle of artistic creation, as well as the dangers of video game addiction and the toll it can take on relationships. There’s also potentially something in there about man becoming more like a machine, but these are just my interpretations, I could be way off base.
Our leads both do a great job at embodying their characters. Williamson pays the shy and reclusive Oz well and he feels like a true-to-life every-man. Kudos as well to him for fully committing to all aspects of the role, there’s a scene wherein Oz gets very intimate with a game, and that can’t have been easy to shoot. Opposite him is the wonderfully talented Therese who once more shows that she’s a bit of a chameleon when it comes to this acting malarkey. We first saw her in the brilliant Starry Eyes wherein she played bitchy and highly hateable Erin, next she starred in the fantastic Teenage Cocktail (it’s on Netflix, go watch it) as a headstrong and love-struck teenage wild-child. Here, in Sequence Break, she plays a rather nerdy, socially awkward female to whom you instantly warm.
Sequence Break has a killer soundtrack, full of enough eighties electro synth which makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the decade of arcade gaming. Backing up the awesome audio is a lot of visual flair, although a tad over-reliance on filters. Personally I love a good filter in a film, but whilst helping add to the retro atmosphere I felt there was a slight overuse of the reds and greens.
A bizarrely enjoyable science-fiction thriller, Sequence Break is one heck of a head-scratcher. This film is like David Lynch and David Cronenberg birthed a cinematic child – puzzling, perplexing and pure insanity.
Sequence Break review by Kat Hughes, July 2017
Sequence Break is currently playing at the Fantasia International Film Festival.