Feedback (2019)

Director: Pedro C Alonso
Starring: Eddie Marsan, Paul Anderson, Ivana Baquero, Richard Brake, Oliver Coppersmith, Alexis Rodney, Anthony Head. UK. 1h 37m

After a duo of short movies Pedro C Alonso was given free range for his first feature film. Seemingly going balls to the wall with his daring psychological thriller, it turns a night of work into a night of hell for one highly secretive and very questionable DJ. Alonso seems to enjoy throwing his characters into a vivid world maximised by raging colours sound and violence, chuck in a pair of leather gloves and more eyeliner and we’d have a semi decent Giallo.

Eddie Masan stars as prominent Radio Host and often bad guy, Jarvis Dolan, another one of his many difficult characters, the tough ballsy man who is always in total control is about to drop a bombshell during this peak hour show, but instead he totally loses control and be manipulated by a clever gang of masked thugs. Feedback plunges into depths almost as deep as Hitchcock, frequently manipulating its audience as much as it’s cast.

The film opens with a sharp tonged DJ fighting for his rights to do his show his way, with a new member of the crew he assumes the cock ups that occure are due to the dumb new girl, but slowly he realises these are not rookie mistakes, and instead he has been locked in his booth and some very nasty characters are going to ruin his night.

The worst night of his life

Alonso has managed to use sound to articulate his movie. In the confines of different sound studios the atmosphere is heady with colour and cushioned noises at times it feels like a London version of the Berberian Sound Studio, with eerie silences crushed with cracking loud noises. Is this a signal that it’s ultimately important to listen to the secrets in between the lines being said in this powerful movie?

But what could have happened to provoke such an attack which is ultimately being broadcast live? The team is very careful with the mission, ensuring that Dolan plays ball, doesn’t call for help and still gives his audience a show to remember, while keeping anonymous, at least for the most part.

The prompts to get Dolan to play ball being with threats but the movie does have a healthy dose of disturbing violence, and get’s a touch gory near the end but not applied heavily and the main goal is to get Dolan to confess, or find attrition on his own volition. But of course you can’t have a modern thriller without a touch of torture, and at one point, even a hammer to the knee, which is played off as seemingly necessary to the story but not glorified.

It could have been a very different film, if it took on more ultraviolence then this could have been a slick slasher, or without it, something more of a more palpable version of the much loved dutch thriller, The Guilty (2018), but with Richard Brake making an appearance as a doting father, named Hunter who tries to make friends with a shotgun in hand, Feedback is more filled with twists and turns than a slow burning build up of fear and tension.

Tell me what you did to my daughter

-Hunter

It’s an interesting story that slowly reveals itself chapter by chapter, forcing you to make choices about the characters often flip flopping as new information is gleaned under the pressure of the gang. Their violence becomes maximized as things take so long to evolve and it begins to feel like things are dragging by the end. What was once fresh and exciting doesn’t quite add up in the final throws but it’s still a striking example of suspense and masterful storytelling, in a wonderful redemption potboiler.

Rating: 6/10

Related: Dead Air (2009), Pontypool (2008), The Fog (1980), The Guilty (2018), The Operator/Cross the Line (2015).
Lists: Horror DJ’s, Haunted Transmissions
Spotlight: Richard Brake, Eddie Marsan

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