Monday, March 23, 2020

That Was the Night That the Lights Went Out In Mandyloria

So today's feature initially had some kind of introduction celebrating the weirdness of Costas Mandylor and his career choices, but, well, times have since changed. This is a movie about the United States going into a tailspin when the power goes out. In case you don't know or are reading this in the future when the world has recovered or we've all been replaced by adorable WALL-E robots, we're currently on lockdown due to COVID-19. 

It's my sincere hope and belief that if we behave responsibly, we will get through this, hopefully with a few lessons learned. In times like these, we all do our best to maintain the sanity of ourselves and those around us. 

My only real skills are fast typing and writing about horror movies, so it looks like you're currently still stuck with these dives into genre weirdness. Hope it helps keep you busy. If you need something better, here's a picture of a dog and deer being friends:

Quick Plot: Curtis County is a small rural town where little happens, save for the sheriff quitting smoking and the mysterious hermit (graying Mandylor) playing chess via walkie talkie communication. On a pleasantly sunny spring afternoon, the power goes out. After a few days without any explanation, the townspeople start to panic.

It seems as though there's been a national, and possibly worldwide blackout. The sheriff tries to maintain order and implement resource rationing, but heavily armed escaped inmates have their own plans. In just a few days, society has collapsed and a handful of extremely bland but decent actors are forced into survival mode.

This is a perfectly fine setup for a mini-apocalypse thriller, but unfortunately, director Louis Mandylor (yes, Costas's brother) and writer Steve Yoon lack any kind of spark. The biggest issue probably stems from casting decisions and dialog: while the actors are perfectly fine, their characters are incredibly dull.

The worst offenders come in our quartet of teenagers. Why anyone would think it wise to take two tall brunette white guys and two pretty brunette white girls wearing ponytails and center a third of an ensemble movie around them? Save for one Australian accent, I could barely tell these kids apart, making me want to root for their survival even less (though "spoiled rich kids who missed the news because they were doing shrooms in the woods" is usually not the most endearing character trait to begin with). 

It isn't until halfway through The Blackout that we even meet our villains, a gang of escaped prisoners whose only defining characteristic seems to be rape. There's a hint of something interesting when we see how they've started to recruit new members and feed them via fight clubbing, but it's just not enough. At one point, we reach a siege, which I reckon is supposed to be the climax, despite a whole separate set of characters in some other undefined area debating whether to ask for help or go on the attack. It's ill-conceived plotting that fizzles into an ending. That's that.

High Points
I did enjoy the sweet chemistry between the central characters, Martin and Julia. They weren't really given much to do, but both Jordan Marder and Lymari Nadal managed to find some genuine humanity in their underwritten roles

Low Points
No, The Blackout, you do not get to introduce a character as having aspirations of making the Olympic track team and never once put her running skills into play

Lessons Learned
City people will come

When in doubt about how to end your film, consider giving the last laugh to a cymbal playing monkey

A real lady keeps applying eye makeup, even when the world around her has descended into martial law 

Oy. I love when I discover a truly great, truly unknown thriller about society's collapse (Dead Within always comes to mind). When I land on an extremely mediocre one, I'm less enthused. The Blackout is better in quality than its low budget and lack of pedigree might suggest, but there's just nothing really here. It's on Amazon Prime, so if you're one of those weirdos (like me) who take comfort in watching worst-case scenarios that maybe could mirror our times, that's something. 


  1. Great post, I lol'd. The overall tone and particularly the lines, "It's ill-conceived plotting that fizzles into an ending. That's that" really sum up your feelings about The Blackout. I won't be seeking it out obv, however I will definitely be watching Dead Within in the near future. That one looks much better, and oh so suitable for these ominous times.

    1. Oooh, I'll be so curious to hear your thoughts on it! Enjoy!