Sequence Break (2017) [REVIEW] [FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017]

Is there anything Graham Skipper CAN’T do?! The performer has starred in a slew of solid horror films (Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye, Beyond the Gates), has starred in the musical rendition of Re-Animator as Herbert West, and has now written and directed a movie of his own?! Goddamn it, Skipper, you’re making the rest of us look bad. Having dabbled in a variety of different roles in the world of genre entrainment, Skipper’s latest project, Sequence Break, both pays its respects to some of the greatest minds in the genre while also providing fresh commentary on the effect technology can have on all of us.

When I have too much coffee, I’ll say I’m “wired,” but this is ridiculous!

Opting to lead a simple life, Oz (Chase Williamson) wants little more than to go to his job working on classic arcade cabinets and to stop at the bar after work for a drink. Sadly, a mysterious cabinet takes hold of him both mentally and physically, resulting in an obsession to not only make the game work, but also defeat it. Tess (Fabianne Therese) inadvertently pushes Oz closer to the game, as she’s become just as fascinated by it as he, giving his video game knowledge a run for its money. When the obsession latches onto Tess, Oz must find a way to break the cycle in a surreal mindfuck full of grotesquely erotic special effects.

I support any and all films that show Fabianne Therese playing and talking about video games.

Unlike many of you out there, I am not a nerd, I am a cool guy who is also a hunk, so I can’t really begin to understand your fascination with video games. Despite me being too busy to waste time playing Super Mario, I understand the euphoria that can come along with getting sucked into a video game and the way it can alienate you from reality. Skipper seems quite familiar with it too, as I found the film to serve as an allegory of the ups and downs of obsession and, in the case of Sequence Break, the specific spiral one falls into when trying to get to the next level or explore the next stage of a story. In a grander scale, the film represents a detachment from reality altogether due to technology, not specifically in the realm of video games. Oz doesn’t have a cell phone and uses pay phones, while Tess gets frustrated at a bar for not having the TV on, with the bartender explaining how the screen deters people from talking to one another. Given society’s reliance on technological distractions, Sequence Break felt like an exploration of how the obsession with the trivial nature of technology can have a disastrous impact on an individual and can cause someone to sacrifice their well-being for these artificial pleasures.

Of course we all WANT to have sex with video games, but this is ridiculous!

On the other hand, Sequence Break might just be an homage to the “Bishop of Battle” sequence in horror anthology Nightmares, in which Emilio Estevez becomes obsessed with getting to the 13th level of an arcade game, only to get sucked into the game itself. If this is the case, it is disappointing, as Skipper might not have understood how effectively he was conveying complex issues currently plaguing our society, or possibly dismissed those bigger ideas to create his love letter to video games and David Cronenberg. Skipper and Williamson recently starred together in Beyond the Gates, which was a nostalgic ode to VHS board games of the ’80s, so it’s possible for Sequence Break to have merely been a continuation of those nostalgic trends, but the underlying themes in Sequence Break are far more powerful than pings of nostalgia in their previous collaboration. Had the technological critiques either expanded further than just video games to be a larger critique on society or had the storyline focused much more heavily on video games, the film could have been a little more fulfilling. Regardless of the vague and noncommittal nature of its meaning, Sequence Break is an ambitious endeavor for the filmmaker that shows he’s going to prove himself a force to be reckoned with in not just the acting world, but also in filmmaking.

Wolfman Moon Scale

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