While I don’t consider myself to be a “gamer”, I have a deep and profound love for the digital medium. Some of the greatest adventures I’ve ever experienced took place with a controller in hand. Hell, video games practically taught me how to read! Who knows where I’d be without them. That’s why it’s only logical that my interest would immediately be drawn to Graham Skipper’s Sequence Break; a romantic horror/scifi film that centers around a lonely arcade repairman and the strange girl that suddenly enters his life.

For those that are unaware, writer/director Graham Skipper has become a mainstay of the independent horror scene in recent years. With leading roles in films like Almost Human, The Mind’s Eye, Beyond the Gates, and Tales of Halloween, it’s clear that Skipper loves the genre every bit as much as we do. But does that love and affection bleed through in his debut effort behind the camera? Mostly, yeah.

It’s clear that Skipper loves the genre every bit as much as we do.

Sequence Break is a unique and understated experience. It’s without question that those tuning in for an action-packed thrill ride will certainly leave disappointed, and that’s okay. It’s a love story. Lying beyond the slimy tentacles and LSD-infused visuals sits a relatively common tale of “boy meets girl”. Skipper’s debut effort is at its best when it allows itself to get cozy with its two protagonists. The dialogue is sweet, and actors Chase Williamson and Fabianne Therese deliver their lines in an effortless an organic fashion. In certain scenes, you might forget you’re watching a genre film, and that’s a good thing.

Sequence Break is a unique and understated experience.

However, it’s when Skipper starts to dial up the Horror and Scifi elements that the production begins to falter. A few poorly executed CGI effects and the performances of a few secondary characters serve as a stark reminder of the film’s budgetary constraints, and while the practical gags are cool to look at, they often caused more confusion than anything else. I understand the story that Sequence Break is telling me from a high level. But the further that things progressed, the more I found myself wondering aloud “what the hell is going on?”.

It’s impossible to deny the passion and spirit that Graham Skipper’s history with the genre brings to the table, but Sequence Break is an especially raw effort. While the romance angle works well, the film’s ambition is simply overpowered by its budget. There are many things to like here, but as an overall package, it falls just short of my own personal expectations. What’s clear is that Skipper has a knack for writing dialog and an eye for the surreal and the bizarre. I have no doubt that he only goes up from here.

Sequence Break screened at the Fantasia Film Festival on July 18th.