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Review: FEEDBACK (2019)

Horror films have frequently used radio shows as a hook to hang an anthology film on. A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio and A Christmas Horror Story, for example. And there’s the memorable bit of audio at the end of Fulci’s Zombie. But genre films actually set in a radio station are rare, Pontypool, Dead Air and the little-seen short AM1200 being the only ones I can think of. Now director Pedro C. Alonso and co-writer Alberto Marini (Sleep Tight, Extinction) have come up with Feedback, a home invasion film set in a broadcast studio.

Jarvis Dolan (Eddie Marsan, Tyrannosaur, Ray Donovan) is a British political talk show host. He’s recently been freed from kidnappers angered by his views, and his boss wants him to tone things down. To the point of forcing him to work with his former partner and former friend Andrew Wilde (Paul Anderson, ‘71, The Revenant).

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However, on their first night back together, the studio is taken over by armed men who aren’t afraid to kill to get their way. It seems his kidnappers are back for more. But as their demands are revealed, it seems whoever they are, this group has a more personal motive. Something that may be related to the night that ended Jarvis and Andrew’s partnership.

Feedback takes place entirely within the radio station, and mostly the studio and control room. This makes for a very claustrophobic feeling. Being trapped in such close company to a pair of violent psychopaths is not a good place to be. Richard Brake (Tremors: Shrieker Island, Mandy) and Oliver Coopersmith (It’s Alive, Tin Star) are convincingly menacing in their roles. However, it’s Ivana Baquero, (Pan’s Labyrinth, Black Friday) as the manipulative psychopath behind it all who’s the most chilling.

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Once blood begins to spill and secrets begin to be revealed, Feedback begins to make more sense. But while the act at the centre of all this is certainly heinous, the attacker’s willingness to shed innocent blood makes it impossible to side with them either. There’s a lot of moral ambiguity at the centre of Feedback, which makes it feel all the more realistic. Real-life is rarely as cut and dried as movie plots.

Interspersing all of this are bursts of tense and bloody action. A sledgehammer is put to some nasty use, as are knives and a shotgun. But in the end, we’re left with our doubts. What really happened that night? How much is memory tainted by trauma and large amounts of drugs? Were things said true confessions, or a desperate bid for self-preservation?

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Feedback is certainly a dark film. But it’s also an incredibly tense one. Breaking Glass Pictures will release it on DVD on February 18th.

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