Sequence Break follows an arcade repairman as he experiences hallucinatory visions after playing a mysterious circuit board. As he adjusts to the realization that the arcade shop is closing down and develops a relationship with a love interest, he tries to solve the puzzle of this seemingly malevolent game before it ruins his life, or possibly takes it.
Sequence Break Review
Following in the footsteps of recent body horror films, Sequence Break is more about the allusion to its intrigue than gripping visuals or powerful practical effects. Cronenberg remains the master of body horror and has rarely been challenged in the 2000's, and Sequence Break is no exception.
Sequence Break felt like Testuo the Iron Man and Donnie Darko had a baby that was raised by the director of Kuso and it decided to make a movie in an abandoned warehouse on no budget. The effects work ranges from pointlessly weak to effectively disgusting to defiantly courageous, but never finds a solid ground to stand on, mixing in elements of 80s techniques with avoidable CG and effective gross-out mixtures. It was at times impressive and other times equally terrible.
The acting is pretty weak with a script that lacks cohesion, seemingly purposefully (hence my recollections of Donnie Darko). The lead is a socially awkward mess that verges on savant with his innate arcade repair skills. The nerd wet dream ensues when a young woman shows immediate and aggressive interest in him with no ulterior motives, seemingly to drive more drama into the plot and perhaps introduce the moral of the story.
It would be possible for one to pull symbolism out of this film by pointing towards the sexual nature of the evil arcade machine. Our lead's hallucinatory interactions with it accelerate into a disgusting sexual fantasy that seems to be pulling him in and taking him away from everything else. It eventually tries to consume him and his life. Like a parallel for videogame addiction.
Though this may be a stretch to assume such a foreboding message for today's youth, it feels predominant in the visuals and less-so the writing or characters. Their behavior never seems unhealthy, really only when they interact with the arcade game, which seems somewhat disjointed with the message I am grabbing. I feel like I'm giving it too much credit to assume a moral compass.
Not to nit-pick, but I think it is a fairly common criticism of videogame nerds and aspiring movie makers alike when characters in film fake videogame playing. Like a poorly-directed drive scene, it's painfully obvious when somebody is just banging on buttons and rolling joysticks. It's sad that in a movie like this, every gameplay scene is terribly mimed through a fake game. The button mashing was particularly frustrating because it doesn't correlate at all with what the viewer sees. It drove me crazy.
There are certainly excusable things in low-budget films. Acting is always one I'm willing to dismiss, and effects work is held hostage by the innate skill of a small crew. This film requires a bit of commendation in both areas, like putting up a child's crayon drawing on the fridge. But, it did use the body horror element to weave the story in a somewhat effective manner. The film wasn't a disappointment, but managed to make me wish there was a little more.
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 3/10