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There’s a lot to like and admire about Gorman Bechard’s first feature film Disconnected (1984). But the thing about Disconnected that really hooked me was the main character Alicia (Frances Raines). Alicia is a neurotic woman in her mid-twenties with an inferiority complex who works at a grimy little video store and adorns the walls of her apartment with old movie one-sheets. Immediately I felt a very specific kinship with Alicia.

Set in a small town in Bechard’s native Connecticut, Disconnected follows Alicia’s troubled romantic life as well as her tumultuous relationship with her twin sister Barbara-Ann (also Raines). Alicia must contend with bizarre phone calls as she navigates a break-up and begins seeing a fellow film nerd (Mark Walker) who turns out to be a serial killer. The premise may sound far fetched but the script by Bechard and Virginia Gilroy keeps the various genre tropes rooted in the monotony of Alicia’s everyday life.

While the bulk of Disconnected is focused on Alicia a small portion of the film is modeled on true crime documentaries meant to perpetuate the narrative of the police search for the killer. These “true crime” sequences take the form of an interview with the officer in charge of the case (Carmine Capobianco) that replicates the use of “witnesses” in Reds (1981) although their purpose is to create the same moral and narrative dichotomy of M (1931). These scenes are the weakest part of Disconnected and feel more like an indulgence than a necessity.

However, there are two scenes in Disconnected that lift the film to the upper echelons of regional horror picture making. The first of these is the “Complicated Game” scene in which Bechard cuts one of Mark Walker’s murders to the aforementioned song by XTC. “Complicated Game” is a moody, underrated masterpiece that fits the violence of the murder as well as the sociopathic behavior of the killer. It’s an ideal marriage of music and image that recalls Abel Ferrera’s Driller Killer (1979) in its unhinged momentum.

The other great scene in Disconnected comes near the end of the film. At this point Alicia has survived a murderous assault, buried her sister, and hooked up with her ex all the while being harassed by otherworldly sounding phone calls. These phone calls have made the safe space of Alicia’s apartment dangerous. Each call is an encroachment on Alicia’s autonomy that has gradually left her cut off from the world at large. As Alicia hits her breaking point Bechard suddenly strips her of her cinematographic agency by using black and white still photographs rather than 16mm film to capture her break down. These images form an insular circuit within the film that reflects the carnage of Alicia’s interiority. It’s a beautiful and powerful cinematic gesture that lends the film a sense of the profound that typically eludes micro-budget genre films.

This isn’t to say that the whole of Disconnected is some kind of lost masterpiece. Much of the film is exactly what one would expect from a debut feature shot for next to nothing in Connecticut. It’s Frances Raines’ performance as Alicia that sees Disconnected through its rocky patches of earnest amateurism. Gorman Bechard isn’t quite at the level of direction he’d display in Psychos In Love (1987), although the distrust of intimate relationships and reflexive humor are all prevalent in Disconnected. But for those viewers who harbor a nostalgia for video stores and a passion for autumnal vibes Disconnected is a film well worth seeing.