I Saw The TV Glow Review

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If you can connect with 'I Saw The TV Glow' you will get a lot out of this queer movie

Jane Schoenbrun is a filmmaker who has rapidly gained recognition as a significant new voice in the world of cinema and this film marks a significant evolution in her style and breaks away from traditional industry norms. 

Schoenbrun’s work, ranging from the documentary A Self-Induced Hallucination (2018) about the Slenderman fandom to We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021), her latest offering offers a refreshing and honest exploration of the anxieties faced by today’s queer generation.

In just two feature films, Schoenbrun has established a unique voice, exploring how media influences and transforms us in ways that are both unsettling and poignant. Her films delve into the psychological and emotional impact of media, turning abstract concepts into tangible experiences. 

As a trans-non-binary filmmaker, Schoenbrun brings a powerful and disruptive perspective to mainstream cinema, focusing on themes of gender transition and identity with remarkable clarity.

I Saw the TV Glow, produced by A24, begins with multiple layers that includes a deep look around isolation, but the movie soon reveals itself as a deeply moving and surreal narrative.

Schoenbrun brings the trans themes of her previous works to the forefront, using symbolic storytelling to explore self-denial, the connection between media and trans identities, and the suffocating feeling of living a life without fulfillment. Unlike her previous films, which subtly hinted at these themes, this film makes them explicit, offering a raw and powerful portrayal of the modern day queer experience. 

The film is set in 1996 and follows seventh-grader Owen (Ian Foreman), who feels isolated in his suburban neighborhood. His life changes when he meets Maddy (Brigitte Lundy-Paine), a ninth-grader obsessed with a TV show called The Pink Opaque. 

The show becomes a shared passion that strengthens their bond and set against the backdrop of a late-1990s America, the film highlights the isolation and repression experienced by those living on the margins of society.

The Pink Opaque offers up some of the scares, and it features two friends with psychic powers battling the moon-dwelling Mr. Melancholy and his weekly monsters. The standout villain is the ice cream man, a terrifying creature in a melting suit, awakened by the end of summer when ice cream season ends. 

TV on fire in I Saw The TV Glow

As Owen grows older (now played by Justice Smith), his bond with Maddy deepens through their shared love for The Pink Opaque, but Maddy’s increasing attachment to the show and her struggles with her identity start to create tension. 

Maddy faces physical abuse at home and isolation due to her sexuality, while Owen grapples with his own identity, and the film takes a darker turn as they confront a shocking revelation about The Pink Opaque, leading to a journey that challenges their sense of self.

The film’s depiction of trans experiences is quite powerful to watch and it explores the pain of transitioning and the fear of change with raw honesty. Schoenbrun’s portrayal of Owen’s struggle is pretty heart-wrenching and captures the desperation and confusion that comes with embracing one’s true identity.

I Saw the TV Glow speaks to everyone though, it is a call to awaken to our true selves and warns of the  consequences of self-denial, whatever that may be in your life.

And just a word on the visuals, they are beautiful, the use of the vibrant colors is mesmerizing, and sometimes pretty haunting. It evokes a past era of glow-in-the-dark chalk and TV static and this perfectly captures 90s aesthetics, reminiscent of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Is It Worth Watching?

I really liked it and found it to be a very haunting and surreal movie, and it is a horror movie, although many will disagree, but it is more psychological, and I got a lot out of watching it.  It has a very powerful message and is a pretty haunting movie.

There are some genuinely unsettling and hard to watch scenes and the movie uses horror in a different way that goes beyond just trying to scare you. It hits you emotionally, showing trauma and suffering in a powerful, relatable way, and that's the type of movie I love, as you will know if you have read my Hereditary review.

It won't be for everyone though, but if you can connect with this one, you will get a lot out of it.

7.5/10 - [I Saw The TV Glow On IMDB]

Let me know your thoughts on the movie in the comments or connect with me on Twitter and Instagram or my Facebook page.

And check out some of my other horror movie reviews:

Child's Play
Ginger Snaps
Psycho II
The Watchers
The Strangers: Chapter 1
A Quiet Place: Day One