There is a lot of (valid) huffing and puffing in the horror community bemoaning the lack of originality in the genre. Mainstream horror, and mainstream movies in general simply don’t take the risks of old ending up in a greatly reduced gene pool and endless remakes and clones. On the flip side, indie film-makers and lower budget movies tend to feature more creativity, more refreshing ideas, while sacrificing box-office stars and eye-watering effects. Somewhere in the middle there is a line, where a middling budget and recognizable faces collide with ideas which intrigue and where writers and directors want to tell an interesting story without pressure to top the charts. Don’t Blink falls within this category and centres on an idea which had me hooked the moment I heard about it.
Remember that Halloween episode of The Simpsons where all the advertisements come to life and rampage through Springfield until the gang comes up with an ironic jingle called ‘Just Don’t Look’ to dispel the troublesome giants? It’s something I’ve always used in arguments against celeb culture, reality TV and beyond – if you don’t want something to exist, simply don’t pay attention to it and it will go away if enough other people do the same. It’s naïve, but it does work. What has this to do with Don’t Blink? The film’s premise is simple – a group of friends head out to a cabin hotel in the woods countryside only to find the place empty. There are no signs of any struggle but plenty of hints that something has gone badly wrong. Without warning they begin to disappear too. It shouldn’t be a spoiler to say this, but essentially what is happening is that if nobody is looking at you, you vanish. You cease to exist. Poof! Gone in an instant. The moment I read about this – the fact that there’s a movie about people basically dying if they are not seen – and my imagination went into overdrive, thinking up a hundred cool scenarios.
While the movie plays loosely with slasher tropes, it follows more in the footsteps of Final Destination, though without the gore or kills . What it does have is intrigue, suspense, and uncertainty. There are a few known names in the cast – Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Zack Ward, but it was Joanne Kelly I was most excited to see after being sold on the idea, having been a fan of her from Warehouse 13. The rest of the cast are an assortment of interesting characters and performers and the film does spend time allowing us to learn about the various inter-relationships and insecurities of the individuals. As the film progresses and the numbers dwindle, these fears are heightened and you’ll be second guessing motives and survivors. Paranoia births slowly, comments and side-remarks are traded, sides are formed and arguments become violent. If you enjoy movies which make you question how you would act, then you’ll have a ball with this.
‘Hitchcockian’ has become an over-used term, but the film definitely plays out like an old school mystery and thriller with the viewer struggling for sense and reason alongside the characters. The director toys with us, dropping several red herrings. The camera tantalizes at several moments, spinning slowly around the characters and begging us to watch carefully to see if someone has disappeared or merely stepped out of shot for a moment. As much fun as the cast and director are clearly having, some viewers may be frustrated at how open-ended the film is. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, this isn’t something I generally have an issue with – I’m happy to form my own opinions and conclusions based on what we are shown – but fair warning to viewers who like a tidy ending with all questions answered. It’s a film which reveals more with re-watching and it has quickly become a personal favourite. Horror fans striving for originality should open their eyes to this little gem.
Let us know in the comments what you thought of Don’t Blink!