Director: Giancarlo Esposito
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Giancarlo Esposito, Famke Janssen
Release Date: In Select Theaters & On Demand September 15, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Josh Duhamel, Famke Janssen, and Giancarlo Esposito highlight this pulse-pounding thriller about a reality show that exploits the on-camera deaths of its players—on live TV. After a dating show ends in violence, its host Adam Rogers (Duhamel) and a ratings-hungry network exec (Janssen) launch a terrifying new program that promises fresh kills every week. The tension mounts as a kindhearted janitor (Esposito) joins the deadly program, hoping to help his struggling family survive…at any cost.
‘The Show’ follows reality television icon Adam Rogers (Duhamel) whose heroic and selfless acts during a deadly moment on the millionaire-marriage series he hosts quickly becomes the most talked about news around. Once the network’s brass discover a loophole regarding the live broadcast of a suicide with certain specific rules following the on-air tragedy, the world’s obvious desperation for bloodshed combined with the network’s lack of legal responsibility promptly results in the forming of a disturbing new reality show titled ‘This Is Your Death’ where contestants willingly commit suicide on stage in order to hopefully further the lives of those they care most about. As the unsettling new series immediately skyrockets to success in the ratings, Adam’s appreciation and overall respect for life begins to dwindle as he becomes engulfed in the show’s monumental success and he soon finds himself becoming a drastically different person as the on-screen violence begins to take a toll in his life, affecting him and those he holds most dear.
Directed by Giancarlo Esposito who is surely best known to most folks for his acting work including his infamous portrayal of Gus on the immensely popular television series ‘Breaking Bad’ along with plenty more, Esposito does a wonderful job at the helm of ‘The Show’ which marks his sophomore directorial effort (he previously directed 2008’s Gospel Hill), carefully guiding along this tense and unnerving tale from a screenplay by Noah Pink (TV’s Genius) and Kenny Yakkel (The Task). The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to the talented folks that comprise the cast and allow the experience to work as well as it does including Josh Duhamel (Transformers), Giancarlo Esposito (TV’s Once Upon A Time), Famke Janssen (X-Men), Sarah Wayne Callies (TV’s Prison Break), Caitlin FitzGerald (TV’s Masters of Sex), Chris Ellis (Apollo 13) and more, nearly all delivering notable performances in each of their respective roles, particularly Duhamel, Esposito and Callies who each offer some of their finest acting work to date and nary miss a beat.
‘The Show’ is a film quite unlike anything else you’ve recently experienced. It’s an intense, unsettling and emotionally riveting piece of filmmaking that provides a grim an eerily realistic exploration of today’s culture which always seems to be itching for the most disturbing and blood soaked bit of media they can get their hands on. It’s certainly not too far of a stretch to imagine a station willing to air just such a series if they had no legal hurdles to tackle, and while this definitely isn’t the case at the moment, the concept and nearly every aspect surrounding it is nonetheless hauntingly believable. What allows ‘The Show’ to be such a fantastic piece of cinema is that its intent is not simply to assault the viewer with a barrage of gory imagery with no larger purpose, and while make no mistake there are definitely some outright disturbing moments in the film, it’s never for the simple sake of shock and amusement but in order to allow the viewer a better understanding of just how unnerving what is occurring on screen is and to provide us an adequate appreciation of the escalation within. This is not a film with the sole intention to entertain and amuse, but a powerful and heartfelt look at a world not far from reach and an exploration of countless real issues that far too many are already tackling today and have been for far too long. Director Giancarlo Esposito does a fantastic job passionately guiding along this painful story and allowing it to reach its full potential regardless of the cost, and his capable guidance is further complimented by some remarkable performances from a perfectly selected cast including Josh Duhammel who is simply phenomenal and provides one of his finest performances to date, constantly brimming with vigor and a quiet intensity that promptly transfixes you. In addition to his role as director, Esposito himself also offers an impressive portrayal of the film’s secondary focus Mason Washington, a family man struggling to maintain various jobs and still unable to adequately provide for his family who slowly begins to contemplate drastic measures when his luck only increasingly worsens.
Overall, ‘The Show’ is a fantastic film that will shock, disturb and move you with its powerful look at today’s world and culture that doesn’t pull any punches. While unsettling and often quite bleak it’s also never lacking in heart or emotional strength, each unnerving step made with purpose. Director Giancarlo Esposito does a wonderful job at the helm of his sophomore directorial effort and also offers a heart wrenching performance in front of the camera, and his capable work on both sides is only further boosted by more noteworthy cast members at their best including Josh Duhammel who truly shines here and delivers a powerful and intense performance as show host Adam Rogers. ‘The Show’ is definitely highly recommended; this powerful and moving tale is not to be missed and will almost certainly stick with you for some time after the credits roll.