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Film Review: Blackout

By Donnambr @_mrs_b
About Blackout (2008)BlackoutThe clock ticks on three strangers trapped in an elevator, who all have desperate, urgent need to escape their confines. Claudia (Amber Tamblyn) is in a hurry to return to the hospital bedside of her dying grand-mother. Tommy is a young punk on his way to elope with his girlfriend. Karl (Aiden Gillen) has guilty secrets that must be erased from his apartment before his wife and daughter get there. But all three are trapped in a elevator in a deserted building on holiday weekend and are desperate to get out. What first seems an inconvenience soon turns into a nightmare when no one answers their calls, their meagre water supply runs out ad one of them goes a little bit crazy under the pressure. Propelled by escalating tension and an increasingly desperate conflict, Blackout hurtles towards a terrifying climax.

Starring: Amber Tamblyn, Aidan Gillen, Armie Hammer, Katie Stuart, Alvaro Roque

Directed by: Rigoberto Castañeda

Runtime: 120 minutes

Studio: Velocity/Thinkfilm


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Review: Blackout 

Many of us have a phobia or fear. There are plenty of them whether it’s a fear or heights or some material item which the majority of us can look at and use without thinking but other people cannot stand to be around them. Orwell’s 1984 gave victims targeted by Big Brother a stint in Room 101 where their worst fears were manifest and there was no escape. Rigoberto Castaneda takes on the claustrophobic world of an elevator for this tense thriller but is it worth the ride?

The premise to the film is three people who end up stuck in a lift together for a protracted amount of time. Karl (Aiden Gillen) is a doctor in mourning for his wife who has committed suicide. He asks his sister in law to look after his daughter for an extra day while he sorts things at home. Claudia (Amber Tamblyn) is keeping a vigil at the local hospital for her grandmother who has had surgery but isn’t expected to survive long. Claudia has to head back to her apartment to retrieve an item for her grandmother. Finally there is Tommy (Armie Hammer) who wakes with brusied and bandaged knuckles while the woman next to him appears to have been beaten. Tommy leaves without a word and makes for his apartment. Karl, Claudia and Tommy all live in the same building and end up in a lift together when it suddenly breaks down. The building is unusually quiet due to renovations so the trio have to sit it out and wait to be rescued. However, the prolonged hours confined together begin to take their toll and one of the trio turns out to very dangerous.

Any film where the majority of the screen time is set in one location is always a big ask to keep the audience entertained. This film has an interesting enough premise but the confinement in the lift does hinder it. The film displays flashbacks for each of the characters to inject some variety into the film and to reveal why each of the trio is in such a rush and cannot afford to be shut in a lift. The reasons are equally varied and two of the back stories involve some form of violence which doesn’t bode well for any hopes of peace existing between the trio. I can’t reveal the backgrounds, of course, that would ruin the whole story.

From the moment the lift breaks down the personalities of the three characters begin to unravel. Karl takes a picture of Tommy on his phone and receives a punch for his trouble. When the situation becomes dire Tommy climbs out of the lift after opening the doors with his knife. Trying to climb to safety the lift cable snaps and Tommy is left with a broken leg for his trouble, making the situation ever more serious. Claudia has both a chocolate bar and inhaler in her possession but as the tension mounts these are confiscated and one of her companions begins to smoke, which as you can imagine doesn’t help her asthma! Violence isn’t far away and when it finally comes it’s not pretty.

As interesting as the storyline is there just isn’t enough there to sustain this film. Having three people trapped in a lift would be a tense enough experience but having to have one person partial to violence just stretches the credulity a bit too far. The conclusion is a pretty bloody affair and the resolutions by the final reels leave the whole project feeling a bit pointless.

Blackout has some tense moments but it would have been better if the violence that takes place had escalated from someone with no previous history of it. That one of the trio is partial to violence in the first place just makes it bad luck for the others trapped in the lift and what are the odds of it happening in the first place? There are some gory moments at the end but there is little to redeem this by the final credits.

Verdict: 1/5

(Film source: reviewer’s own copy)

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