September 3, 2015 Don’t Blink (Movie Review)
Released in October of 2014 on DVD, Don’t Blink is packed full of action, and recognizable stars. Written and directed by Travis Oates, who has done numerous videos for My Friends Tigger and Pooh, voicing Piglet, and other voice work, Don’t Blink is far away from a children’s genre. Released by EchoWolf Productions, Engine Film Group, and Last Stop Films, Don’t Blink was filmed in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Furthermore, the cinematography by Jayson Crothers (Cold Water 2013, Amnesiac 2015), captures the incredible, but isolated, scenery, and is impeccably focused, immediately grabbing the viewer.
The events in Don’t Blink take place in modern times. Ten friends- Jack (Brian Austin Green: Beverly Hills 90210 1990-2000, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles 2008-2009), his girlfriend Tracy (Mena Suvari: American Beauty 1999, American Pie series), Claire (Joanne Kelly: Hostages 2013-2014, Warehouse 13 2009-2014), Alex (Zach Ward: Resident Evil: Apocalypse 2004, Transformers 2007), Sam (Leif Gantvoort: CSI: NY 2013, Criminal Minds 2013), Sam’s girlfriend Charlotte (Samantha Jacobs: First Winter 2012, Listen Up Philip 2014), Jack’s ex girlfriend Ella (Fiona Gubelmann: Wilfred 2011, Mad Men series), her boyfriend Noah (David de Lautour: Perception 2015, Westside 2015), Amelia (Emelie O’Hara: Josephine and the Roach 2012, Welcome to Forever 2015), and Lucas (Curtiss Frisle: Hollywood Saturday Night 2012, Patient X 2014), travel to Mountainbrook lodge for the weekend, a great place for them to catch up and relax. Claire has her thesis to complete, the others just want fun.
By the time they reach Mountainbrook, Alex is almost out of gas. The cabins are isolated, in the middle of the woods, with amenities thankfully that include gas. Initially it looks like a beautiful, but quiet place. Almost as soon as they arrive, things seem off, odd, and not right. There are abandoned vehicles, and no one but them around. Food has been left half eaten and the place looks like people left in a hurry. Once they explore, they discover that is not the only strange thing about the place. The weather seems to affect the grounds in different ways, there are hot, cold, and frozen places side by side.
As time goes by, no people return, and nothing changes. It becomes clear they are alone, but why? Unfortunately that is not the groups biggest problem. One by one, the people in the group begin to disappear, without a trace, as soon as they aren’t in someones sight. The group continues to dwindle with no apparent explanation. As each one disappears, those that remain begin to unravel, and turn to or on each other. Each disappearance reveals hidden aspects of each character, both good and bad, that accelerate and complicate their situation. They reach the point that they simply cannot even blink or someone else is taken, but by what or whom? The tension builds towards an explosive open ending and keeps the viewer questioning.
The storyline has been likened to Dean Koontz’s 1998 film Phantoms, and at first glance, it is similar, though Don’t Blink delves more into the fear within us and the breakdown of our humanity when faced with situations we have no control over. Closer to a grownup version of 1990’s Lord of the Flies, Don’t Blink, is a slow-simmering, well-paced movie. The end has drawn some criticism for not being more informative, however, there are clues placed throughout the film that indicate what may have happened. Further, it does an excellent job at providing the viewer with enough information to figure out what really went on for themselves. The entire cast carries the film with relative ease, and they fit well together. It is also interesting for the viewer to pick out the familiar faces. Suvari and Green show they still have what it takes, and still have plenty to offer.
Zach Ward has a duel role in the film, acting also as the stunt advisor. The special effects are minimal and simple, blending seamlessly into the storyline. Don’t Blink has plenty of character depth, and just enough backstory to feel for the characters. The dialogue and emotional/physical reactions are realistic, and the good natured humour between the friends adds to the empathy and concern felt by the viewer. The film is not fast-paced, and there is not a lot that happens between people disappearing, which can feel a bit repetitive by three quarters of the film. However, Don’t Blink is an intriguing story, that could lead into a sequel. Oates has certainly shown his diverse skills and talents with this movie, and his future works are worth looking out for. A must watch, CrypticRock gives Don’t Blink 4 out of 5 stars.