“I Saw the TV Glow”


Metacritic (2/10), Letterboxd (1/5), Imdb.com (2/10), TMDB.com (2/10)

After watching this piece of incoherent, unfocused rubbish, I would have much rather watched the TV glow instead. Writer-director Jane Schoenbrun’s incomprehensible smart horror offering is an absolute utter waste of time, not to mention the ticket price. This glacially paced story of two psychologically and emotionally troubled teens, Owen (Ian Forema) and Maddy (Brigitte Lundy-Paine), who bond over a cheesy late night 1990s young adult sci-fi/horror television series called The Pink Opaque struggles mightily to find its way. As Owen grows into an adult (Justice Smith), his cohort vanishes mysteriously when the TV series is abruptly cancelled, leaving him wondering what happened to her until she just as mysteriously reappears years later with a disjointed story that makes no sense from top to bottom. As the film’s narrator, Owen tries earnestly to explain, but his recounting of this experience is equally baffling, especially when he tells why Maddy has come back after her protracted absence. The result is an unintelligible tale that’s far from frightening (even metaphorically speaking) and ends up being a convoluted mix of 1990s teen angst, extended and inexplicably incorporated music videos, an exploration of sexual ambiguity, and a woefully wayward attempt at symbolically addressing issues related to personal disassociation and self-actualization. There are also numerous story elements and images that are included in the narrative that go undeveloped and unexplored. To its credit, the picture features a fine production design, intriguing cinematography, a good measure of campy comic relief (though not nearly enough of it) and a skillfully assembled soundtrack (handily this release’s best attribute). However, when a film’s musical guests receive greater billing than its cast members and the soundtrack ends up being its strongest asset, that doesn’t speak well about the production’s overall quality. To be honest, I get genuinely annoyed (and feel egregiously ripped off) when I leave the theater having screened a picture whose trailer and marketing seem to offer so much promise and end up failing miserably when it comes to delivering the goods, and that’s very much the case with this pretentious, sophomoric cinematic train wreck. Don’t waste your time or money on this one.