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FrightFest 2019 Review - FEEDBACK

feedback review
A radio show host is taken hostage and forced to confess to a past incident live on air.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Pedro C. Alonso

Starring: Eddie Marsan, Paul Anderson, Ivana Baquero, Richard Brake, Anthony Head, Alana Boden

feedback poster


Over the last decade, a group of Spanish filmmakers - Nacho Vigalondo (Open Windows); Rodrigo CortΓ©s (Buried); Jaume Collet-Serra (every Liam Neeson movie) - have revived the thriller genre with varying degrees of success. Iberian filmmakers have never been as concerned with narrative coherence as their more conventional Anglo-Saxon counterparts, and so many of these new thrillers have defied logic, trading on style over substance. Pedro C. Alonso's preposterous feature debut, Feedback, continues this trend. It's a slickly shot single location thriller that rarely makes an ounce of sense.


feedback review


The always value for money Eddie Marsan brings his distinctive brand of tightly wound malevolence to the lead role of Jarvis Dolan, a venom-spitting shock jock London talk radio host who hypocritically calls Brexit voters racists while spouting his own xenophobic conspiracy theories, a sort of liberal Piers Morgan if you will. Dolan winds up his listeners so much that he currently sports scars as a result of being abducted and beaten up the previous weekend. Keen to cash in on the media attention this attack has generated, station supremo Norman Burgess (Anthony Head) forces Dolan to reluctantly team up for an on-air reunion with Andrew Wilde (Paul Anderson), his former co-host.

[ Read more: FrightFest 2019 Review - Extracurricular ]

After his opening monologue/rant, Dolan's studio is stormed by two masked men who inform him that should he not follow their demands, they will kill the show's producer, Anthony (Alexis Rodney), and intern, Claire (Ivana Barquero, unrecognisable from her most famous role as the young star of Pan's Labyrinth). Live on-air, Dolan is forced to eke a confession from Wilde regarding the details of "What happened in room 221?" following an awards show in Belfast several years prior.


feedback review


The nature of just what did happen in room 221, and Dolan's level of complicity, is gradually revealed, and therein lies one of the film's stumbling blocks. Alonso exploitatively hitches his film onto the #MeToo movement, but neither Dolan nor his accusers are the sort of people we can get behind. A stronger filmmaker might be able to manipulate us enough to get us reluctantly on Dolan's side, the way Hitchcock so often made us empathise for people we knew had done terrible things. But at least at this stage of his career, Alonso is no Hitchcock, and Marsan's casting carries its own baggage. The role of Dolan really should have gone to an actor less associated with screen villainy.

[ Read more: FrightFest 2019 Review - I Trapped the Devil ]

But the biggest hurdle for Feedback's audience to vault is the idea that Dolan's accusers could sustain their plan for so long without any interference from the authorities. How they got past the building's security in the first place is never addressed, nor is the fact that a radio show could broadcast a series of confessions and on-air atrocities to Europe's most populous city for 90 minutes without the police knocking on the studio door to see if everything is okay.


feedback review


Alonso's script, co-written with Alberto Marini, is a mess, but as a director there's enough evidence to suggest that he might follow his Spanish compatriots to Hollywood. Feedback's claustrophobic set-pieces are efficiently helmed, and along with cinematographer Γngel IguΓ‘cel, Alonso manages to keep a movie that is largely dialogue based visually interesting. Feedback boasts an intriguing premise, but its succession of head-scratching "why aren't the police kicking the doors in?" moments makes it impossible to invest in its defiantly daft narrative.

Feedback is on Digital HD August 26th.


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