Directed by Ryan Gregory Phillips
Starring Juanita Ringeling, Cristobal Tapia Montt, & Kyle Davis
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Psychological thriller, Shortwave, is a particularly strong example of aesthetic filmmaking, with a lot in common with a towering movie like Ex Machina. Fans of that genre, containment horror, will thoroughly enjoy the uncensored violence and intrigue, which is balanced with a good deal of emotional depth.
Isabel (Juanita Ringeling) and her husband Josh (Cristobal Tapia Montt) suffer a crippling event when their daughter is abducted. Two years on and Isabelle is still struggling to move on, seemingly lost in the sea of her distress. She pops pills and maintains a reclusive lifestyle, all under the watchful yet compassionate eye of her husband. A scientific discovery that Josh makes, could be the bold discovery to change the path for these troubled spouses...or it could open the door to a sinister evil that will wreak havoc on their lives.
Visually, Phillips delivers in a big way. There is a strong confidence emanating from the cinematography throughout that even with limited locations (and budget) this film can proudly stand shoulder to shoulder with the aforementioned Ex Machina. Sequences of breathtaking landscapes and subtle scenery are startlingly jabbed with disturbing flashes of nightmarish figures. This traumatic viewing experience is reflective of the heavy burdens which the characters carry with them, and there is an impending doom about the journey they will go on.
A few stretches in the middle section seemed to feel a little sluggish, as if paying their dues to character development before they could unleash the beast if you will, but that is something many horrors fall victim to. Few would begrudge a little extra time with Ringeling, whose performance is thoughtfully engaging and painfully nuanced. Taken as a duo with Tapia Montt, and the acting side of Shortwave is faultless.
A promising indie feature from Phillips, he has a knack for shock tactics and graphic violence, without falling into bland melodramatics. Everything stays very intelligent, dramatic, and thrilling which is all you can ask.