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SHORTWAVE (director/writer: Ryan Gregory Phillips; screenwriter: story editors Frank Ponce & Thomas McDonald; cinematographer: Lucas Gath; editors: Jonathan Melin/Ryan Gregory Phillips; music: Dominic Fallacaro; cast: Juanita Ringeling (Isabel), Cristobel Tapia Montt(Josh), Katie Carthen (scientist), Jay Ellis (Robert), Mick Ignis (The Creator), Kyle Davis (Thomas), Nina Senicar(Jessica), Sara Malakul Lane (Jane, wie of Thomas), Santwon McCray (D.A.V.I.S); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Anthony Mancilla/Ryan Gregory Phillips/Lindsay Lanzillotta; Vega Baby & Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 2016)
This is a good film for those who can relate to horror pics that are intellectually scary rather than just violently scary. Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz Writer-director Ryan Gregory Phillips, in his debut feature film, helms this intense psychological sci-fi thriller. Co-writers Frank Ponce and Thomas McDonald base its premise on the theory of shortwave radio frequencies triggering memories. The disturbing tale offers a caveat that sometimes it’s best to stop searching and not to know too much about what you are looking for. It follows the same line of madness as Alex Ross Perry’s much superior Queen of Earth (2015). After the young couple Josh and Isobel Harris (Cristobel Tapia Montt & Juanita Ringeling) lose their beloved daughter Amanda when she’s abducted in a local bookstore while mom uses the bathroom, the grieving couple relocate to a remote high-tech home in the hills where Josh continues to research radio signals. Isobel suffers greatly over the loss and is hospitalized for her nerves, which makes Josh’s work experience of scanning for alien transmissions more harrowing. Especially when Josh picks up the signal from outer space and his obnoxious scientist work colleague, Thomas (Kyle Davis), has little sensitivity for his friend’s loss and goads him to continue working despite his suffering. The Marconi company where Josh has been working for years throws the couple a party to celebrate their new start in their new house. Meanwhile a house-bound Isobel is plagued by demanding strange visions that make her act bizarre. Whenever she tries to leave her new home, Isobel has a seizure that prevents her from leaving. During this time Isobel is locked into searching inwardly for clues about her daughter’s disappearance, as it seems she’s sensitized to the shortwave signals coming from her house and believes that they have unleashed memories repressed in her brain. Josh is smart enough to realize that his wife is not just having a nervous breakdown but that something mysterious is happening that leads her to keep inwardly searching for Amanda. The tension and suspense build through the mysterious developments though at times the execution of the story breaks down, as things become unnecessarily cloudy as it goes off track with dreams that don’t help clarify the strange story. The film works best when it remains locked-in to its intriguing premise and keeps us filled with angst and curiosity about both the abduction and the mysterious affects the shortwaves have on the struggling sympathetic couple. This is a good film for those who can relate to horror pics that are intellectually scary rather than just violently scary.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”