‘I Saw the TV Glow’ – Review

By Ehtesham - Senior Editor
4 Min Read
'I Saw the TV Glow' - Review

In the realm of arthouse horror, writer/director Jane Schoenbrun, known for the creepypasta-inspired debut “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair,” returns with a sophomore effort, “I Saw the TV Glow.” Armed with a larger budget, Schoenbrun delves deeper into the themes of dysphoria, enriched with a ’90s nostalgia trip and surreal imagery that lingers in your mind.

Journey through Decades

“I Saw the TV Glow” unfolds the life of Owen (Justice Smith) across multiple decades, initiating the narrative in 1996 when he’s an early teen. Owen, a dysphoric and friendless outcast, discovers solace in the company of Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine), a kindred spirit and fellow outcast. Bonding over the supernatural series “The Pink Opaque,” their lives intertwine with the show’s blurred lines between fiction and reality.

Beyond Conventional Narratives

Unlike Schoenbrun’s debut, this film doesn’t rely on a conventional narrative but thrives on emotion and visual storytelling. Schoenbrun’s adept framing and composition elevate the eerie imagery that permeates Owen’s life. The monsters from “The Pink Opaque” bleed into reality, creating a lucid nightmare. Various techniques and influences bring these creatures to life, from stop-motion villains to nightmarish ice cream trucks shrouded in neon smoke.

’90s Kid Fever Dream

“I Saw the TV Glow” immerses viewers in a nostalgic trip for ’90s kids, featuring Fruitopia vending machines, familiar faces like Fred Durst and Amber Benson, and the crackling haze of VHS. The film becomes a specific yet relatable touchstone of youth, where pop culture obsessions shape identities and act as lifelines in tumultuous times.

Personal Depths

Schoenbrun fearlessly explores personal territories through Owen and Maddy. Maddy, portrayed with raw intensity by Lundy-Paine, grapples with a desire to escape oppressive suburbs, while Owen, played by Smith, embodies the complexities of an asexual navigating societal expectations. The film delves into their inner struggles, creating a surreal world where personal battles unfold against a backdrop of gripping authenticity.

Bittersweet Reminder

“I Saw the TV Glow” stands as a testament to Schoenbrun’s singular vision in arthouse horror. More than a surrealistic masterpiece, it’s a poignant reminder for every ’90s kid who found solace in fictional friends on TV. The film not only captivates with its dreamlike style but also serves as a bittersweet reassurance that, in the world of arthouse horror, you are not alone—fictional friends or otherwise.

“I Saw the TV Glow” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, with an expected release date in 2024 from A24.


When did “I Saw the TV Glow” premiere?

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Who portrays the character of Owen in the film?

Justice Smith takes on the role of Owen.

What is the central theme of the movie?

The film explores dysphoria, identity, and surrealism against a backdrop of ’90s nostalgia.

Are there recognizable faces from the ’90s pop culture in the film?

Yes, Fred Durst and Amber Benson make appearances, adding to the ’90s vibe.

What distinguishes “I Saw the TV Glow” from Jane Schoenbrun’s debut?

Unlike the debut, this film focuses on visual storytelling and emotional impact, delving into personal struggles.

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