Monday, July 20, 2015

With Open Eyes

There seems to be a new subgenre of horror popping up rather frequently on the Instant Watch services. I don't know exactly how to describe it, but let's say something along the lines of "time shifty, dimensional portal-y" thrillers. Think Coherence, Mine Games, even Forget Me Not. In a few of those cases, the filmmakers have taken a basic slasher pattern and given it just enough shifts to feel new.

For lack of a better definition than "time shifty, dimensional portal-y," we'll just say Don't Blink is yet another "lots of attractive young people go to a secluded location and weird shit happens" kind of flick.

Quick Plot: Lots of attractive young people go to a secluded location and weird shit happens.

I mean, it DOES.

By lots, I really do mean about a full baker's dozen or so. A bunch of loosely connected "friends" (I guess?) are driving up to a winter cabin. Among them are Jack (David Silver himself, Brian Austin Green) and his secretly-but-not-so-secretly pregnant girlfriend Tracy (Mena Suvari), Jack's younger brother, another car filled with the hot-headed Zack Ward, and, well, a bunch of other not particularly defined or interesting fodder for...something.

That something turns out to be the random disappearances of individuals. One moment, you're all sitting around discussing dinner until you realize in the blink of an eye, one of you has simply vanished leaving no trace behind. We've already established quickly and clinically that there's no cell service/characters forgot phones/characters don't have cell phones (thus covering all demographics) so we know there is no help on its way. One trigger-happy drama king in the group with a gun means we'll get plenty of "who are the REAL monsters?" overheated drama. The question is, will we as an audience care?

Sort of, maybe. Don't Blink has a nice and intriguing premise, but it's simply not good enough to do anything that special with it. We start with so many characters that it takes too long to realize which ones we'll have the longest. As a result, one of the final survivors(?) has to give an overly long and dull expositional speech about how this is affecting her life because clearly, the film didn't have its timing right to SHOW that. Our other final character gets a last minute affair that comes out of nowhere and is treated with no weight whatsoever. It's weird.

I didn't hate Don't Blink, but the fact that, while watching it, I found myself thinking about the rather mediocre but MUCH more entertaining Mine Games certainly says a lot about the experience. 

High Points
The rapture-y premise is promising...just not delivered

Low Points
Is it weird to want to be able to see a movie when your'e watching it?

Minor spoiler: the film does not explain what actually happened. This can work if you've given me a film that's interesting with or without a reveal, but since Don't Blink has so little substance, it ultimately left me even more frustrated with the entire viewing experience

Lessons Learned
It's not okay to turn off John Denver

(for obvious reasons)
Things white girls from Iowa can make: bologna sandwiches, babies, potatoes, and sex with their pregnant friends' boyfriends. Things white girls form Iowa can't make: sushi, reasons for having sex with their pregnant friends' boyfriends

The outdoors is actually really quiet

You have to have a phone if you have your own internet site

In times of stressful mystery, one can go from irreligious punk to Bible-quoting scholar in mere minutes

As a stream, Don't Blink isn't terrible, but it's far blander than a whole lot of other options that explore similar territory. At the risk of issuing a rather ridiculous pun-filled ruling, you can blink and miss this one.

I'll be here all week. Don't eat the veal, it's made from cruelty.

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