One Of The Best Horror Movies Of 2024 Is Flying Under The Radar

When one writes about movies, one often runs the risk of hyperbole. Cinema can often be so overwhelming, so unique, that your first impression can often be one of exalted rapture. Lord knows I've witnessed films in some settings that seem like bonafide masterpieces, only to revisit them with a cooler head and find that they're simply just fine. Not terrible, not bad — just okay. So I am trying to tread cautiously when I tell you that Jane Schoenbrun's "I Saw the TV Glow" (read our review here) is a masterpiece. Schoenbrun, who burst onto the scene with the excellent, disquieting "We're All Going to the World's Fair," is one of the most interesting filmmakers working right now, and with "I Saw the TV Glow," their sophomore effort, Schoenbrun showcases a jaw-dropping command of their material. This film feels so singular, so special, so unlike anything I've seen recently.

Ah, but there's that risk of hyperbole again. I don't want to oversell this movie. I'm also aware that "I Saw the TV Glow" will not be for everyone. And yet, I can't get it out of my head. I can't shake it. On the surface, this can be classified as a horror movie, and indeed, there are horror elements here. But there's so much more. The film exists in a dreamy suburban landscape that will be familiar to many people who grew up in the '90s and early 2000s. Media plays a significant role in the film; VHS tapes and episode guides and late night shows that feel like secrets the rest of the world doesn't even know about. But that only scratches the surface. At the heart of "I Saw the TV Glow" is a heartbreaking longing; a search for identity, and the very real threat of never fully embracing who you really are because of fear. 

"I Saw the TV Glow" is being distributed by the folks at A24, and they're (predictably) rolling the film out slowly. While I understand that approach, it also worries me. I hope it finds an audience. I hope it doesn't slip through the cracks. I hope audiences are able to discover how important this movie really is.

I Saw the TV Glow is one of the best movies of the year

In the 1990s, high schooler Owen (Justice Smith) meets Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine), who turns him on to the TV series "The Pink Opaque," which feels like a mash-up of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" The show's haunted aura calls to Owen, as do its characters. Owen's father (Fred Durst; yes, that Fred Durst) derides the show as being "for girls" and forbids Owen from watching it. But Maddy diligently records the episodes on VHS and leaves them for Owen to watch. Which he does ... until one day, Maddy disappears, leaving behind a burning television. 

To say more would rob "I Saw the TV Glow" of its power. But years go by, Owen grows older, and a devastating loneliness and longing takes hold of the film — and the viewer. Schoenbrun and cinematographer Eric K. Yue paint suburbia as a landscape of lost dreams: hazy, empty, lacking. Haunted. The nights feel endless, and the days aren't entirely bright. As the years tick on, an eerie entropy envelopes the viewer, and Owen. Late in the film, Schoenbrun cuts to sidewalk chalk art scrawled on a suburban street. It reads "THERE IS STILL TIME." Seeing that, my heart jumped and my breath caught in my throat.

"There is still time." 

But what if there isn't?

I spoke about the film on today's episode of the /News Daily podcast, which you can listen to below:

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