According to Wikipedia, “In computer and video games, sequence breaking is the act of performing actions or obtaining items out of the intended linear order, or of skipping “required” actions or items entirely”. Which does a good job of describing the film Sequence Break, the second writing and directing effort from actor Graham Skipper (All The Creatures Were Stirring, Automation) after Space Clown.
Oz (Chase Williamson, Scare Package, Artik) is a reclusive and socially awkward video game technician who repairs old arcade consoles for Jerry (Lyle Kanouse, Auto Focus). His life is in for some big changes, however. Jerry announces he’s going to close the shop due to lack of business. And Tess (Fabianne Therese, Teenage Cocktail, John Dies At The End) takes a liking to him.
Jerry sees an envelope on the shop floor that night. Before he can see what’s in it he is attacked by a scruffy looking man (John Dinan) who kills him. Oz finds it the next day. It’s a circuit board. He installs it in an empty game cabinet and becomes obsessed with playing it. He also passes it off as his own creation to impress Tess.
But as his relationship with Tess grows and Oz begins to venture into the real world the game and the mysterious figure associated with it reassert their hold on Oz. As dreams and hallucinations blur the lines of reality it reaches out to take its rival Tess out of the picture.
Sequence Break is an unusual film. It feels like David Cronenberg researched the Polybius urban legend. Then watched Tron and the “Bishop Of Battle” segment of Nightmares before sitting down to write Videodrome. And yes, that is a compliment. Seeing Videodrome in an empty theatre was one of the defining moments of my journey to film geekdom.
We get lots of shots of old school circuit boards and wiring in Sequence Break. We see capacitors, connectors, jumper switches put into play. For anyone who’s worked on an old game cabinet or built their own computer, these will be familiar. The way they are fetishized with ectoplasm, malleable parts, and literally throbbing circuitry they become the electronic equivalent of porn.
It all ends with an Orpheus tinged final act where Oz must choose between two possible futures. We could use a bit more detail on just who The Man is and what shaped him would have been helpful here. Oz’s choices are clear enough, but a bit more about the possible stakes would have been nice.
A solid body horror film with a nice touch of romance, Sequence Break deserves to be better known.
Sequence Break is available on Shudder.