FEEDBACK is the type of thriller that had potential to be an interesting film but fell victim to odd plot choices and irregularities in story consistency.
The film details a fatal night in a radio station where a radio host, Jarvis Dolan (Eddie Marsan), and his crew are held hostage and subjected to blackmail, assault and murder from a masked group. The premise itself is not incredibly original, however, the start of the film was entertainingly tense and the actors were very good.
The explosive moments in the recording booth with Jarvis and Andrew (Jarvis’s co-host, played by Paul Anderson) are very well executed. The choice of having the audience aware of the hostage situation but not Andrew creates momentum and the viewer is on the edge of their seat waiting for a crescendo. The yelling and quick dialogue towards the end of this section is disorientating, heightening the tension required to keep the viewer interested.
However, the plot starts to fall apart as it is revealed that the group are seeking vengeance for two women who were raped, and one subsequently murdered, by the radio host and his co-host. The film manages to angle the surviving rape victim, Claire, as the villain and this is an odd and uncomfortable choice. She is also characterised as a crazy, blood thirsty thug. The addition of the motives of the masked group is not the downfall, it is the creative choice to position the rape victim, father of the deceased victim and the surviving boyfriend as maniacs devoid of morality. There are moments where there appears to be an attempt to create sympathy for Claire but this is shot down pretty quickly by a violent outburst or an interruption by the rapist radio host to further his own apparent victimhood.
These choices are enough to ruin the film, however, there are some bonus destructive elements to add to FEEDBACK’s downfall. The presentation of the characters is confusing, the chief offender being the accents. Claire has an American accent, the surviving boyfriend has an English accent and the father is Irish. There is never an explanation as to why these people have different accents despite the girls being friends from their younger teen years. The character development of the radio host does not make sense as his victim personna is swiftly altered into a caricature of a villain. His daughter is still in his life even after hearing the accusations in the recording room, however, their interaction at the film’s close is presented ominously but, confusingly, there is never a further explanation.
FEEDBACK started strong but the film became essentially unbearable by the end. The decision to position a young rape victim as a villain should not be rewarded with accolades and there needs to be a discussion as to why this was chosen as the best route for the film’s plot. There is clearly thought behind this approach, but its execution and lack of clarity did not translate that thought onto the screen. If the film was trying to shock and challenge the viewer, it succeeded, although, most definitely not in the way it planned.