The Broadcast (2015) – By Philip Smolen

 

Clara Fisher (Anja Akstin) is a 1930s actress who lives in seclusion. Several years earlier she was attacked, stabbed and beaten by a mysterious masked man who was never found. The attack left Clara traumatized and unable to work. Since then, she has moved in to a house by herself and cut herself off from humanity. Her only contact is with the young boy who lives next door and they only communicate with a flashlight and Morse code. Then on Halloween day in 1938 she receives a visit from an odd looking policeman named Walter Arden (Morgan Middlebrook). Arden warns Clara about a serial killer who’s been murdering single women in the area. Now even more on edge than normal, Clara turns on her radio which is her main contact with the outside world. Unfortunately for Clara, she decides to turn on the Orson Wells Mercury Theater broadcast for October 31, 1938!

“The Broadcast” is the first full length feature from writer/producer/director Karl Huber and it has a gem of an idea for its plot. The idea of an agoraphobic young woman listening to Well’s “War of the Worlds” broadcast while in a mentally fragile state is ingenious and offers all kinds of cinematic possibilities. One can almost see the tragic results that might occur as Clara listens to her radio thinking that real Martians are invading the Earth.

Unfortunately, Huber adds to many details to the plot which drag it down. It’s bad enough that Clara is terrified by the Mercury Theater broadcast, but the addition of the serial killer subplot doesn’t give the film an extra boost of fear. Rather, it drains suspense from the film. We should be worried about Clara’s state of mind and what she might do. Instead, the Wells broadcast becomes secondary because we know she’s going to face a killer. The revelation of the killer’s identity is also a letdown,

There is some real good stuff here. Huber’s moody black and white photography is superb and Anja Akstin turns in a solid performance as Clara. But the multiple plot elements don’t help and only serve to clutter up the film. “The Broadcast” is a well-intentioned cinematic thriller that fails to properly engage its audience. It has a great premise that unfortunately, doesn’t hold together.

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