Frightfest: Transmission (2023)

Director: Michael J. Hurst

Running Time: 74 Minutes

Starring: Vernon Wells, Felissa Rose, Dave Sheridan, Sadie Katz, Nicole Cinaglia

For the latest film in his extensive career, writer/director Michael J. Hurst crafts something unique; a channel-surfing horror film. While this is not the first of its kind, preceded by festival favourite HeBGB TV, where this feature stands apart is in how the premise is presented. Unfolding entirely on a television screen one evening, the feature establishes itself as an unseen man switching between different channels.

Hurst takes the opportunity to have fun with the premise, as an infomercial focused on a preacher contrasts with a glimpse at a pornographic free preview, while also delivering effective pastiches including a film about a teen romance hindered by an overprotective father. There is also an airing of an Event Horizon-esque film called Transmission which was previously missing, news reports about grisly murders involving a mysterious symbol, and a documentary about revered horror director Frank Tadross Roth (Vernon Wells).

A fun recurring bit shows puppets trying to complete a puzzle, with their first appearance including a cheeky promise that all the pieces will fit together. While the mystery is enthralling, it becomes clear the promise is being fulfilled as the swift runtime flies by, revealing how what is on each channel is part of the same narrative. With the bigger picture coming more into focus, it becomes apparent where it is all leading towards and it becomes horrifying to see where viewers are being taken. As the seemingly disparate elements come together really well, what has been delivered is an impressive piece of channel surfing carnage.

Transmission made its World Premiere at Frightfest 2023