Don't Watch

For the month of October, I will write about a horror movie every day.  Some write-ups will be very short and some will be more fully featured.  The movies will span film history.  Some will be completely new to me and others will be old favorites that I simply haven't written about before.  Some will just plain suck...


Don't Blink - 2014
Written & Directed by Travis Oates

I have written in the past about the unknown being the scariest thing, and I very recently wrote about a film called Honeymoon that stretched the fear of the unknown almost all the way to the end before showing its cards.  For a long time, I've wondered if a horror film could successfully stretch the unknown ALL the way to the end, never giving away its secrets yet still satisfying the viewer.  Writer and director Travis Oates has evidently wondered the same thing, and Don't Blink can most generously be described as an experiment in this question.  After the film is over, the question remains whether it can be done successfully.

Ten uninteresting young people gather at a lodge in the mountains.  The lodge is the last stop for gas before traveling just as far to get out on the other side of the forest (in fact, the film is called "Last Stop" in other markets).  Once they arrive, they find that the gas station attendant isn't around and the pumps are locked.  In between the bickering, they discover that there's no staff in the lodge; nor guests either.  Eventually they realize that there are no birds in the trees or bugs in the ground -- there is no living thing, no thing to be found.

Then one of their own disappears.

Panic and even more bickering ensue.  Rather than giving us characters whose survival matters, we start rooting for which obnoxious asshole or bland mannequin will get picked off next, but even that loses its thrill quickly, because there's simply no drama to it.  The mystery is unsatisfyingly played out, and ultimately unresolved.  Literally ALL we have here are characters disappearing.  They're not murdered.  They're not kidnapped.  They're just gone, and the disappearances become totally predictable.  Even after the group decides not to take their eyes off each other, it becomes patently obvious when they do exactly that who is going to be gone in 30 seconds.

I still think it might be possible to create a horror movie steeped in the creepy unknowns of an unresolved mystery, but Don't Blink is not the film to accomplish this goal.  If the mystery is unresolved, there still needs to be something else to engage the viewer.  Unfortunately, this is a by-the-numbers cabin massacre without the massacre.

Don't see Don't Blink.

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