Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: Don’t Blink (2014)

Film Review: Don’t Blink (2014)

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SYNOPSIS:

Ten people arrive at a secluded mountain resort to find it completely deserted. With no gas for the return trip, the visitors are forced to stay and investigate the mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.

REVIEW:

First time writer/director, Travis Oates, hits one out of the park with his debut feature, Don’t Blink. A deceptively simple story about a group of ten friends who get together for a weekend getaway at a mountain resort, only to discover that there isn’t anybody there when they arrive. Upon further investigation, they discover food left on the dinner table & the house seems to have been abandoned in a hurry. There also isn’t any sign of life surrounding them at all – no birds, fish, insects…nothing. It’s as if everything just vanished. Not helping matters is the fact that they’re basically out of gas, so they can’t drive away from the resort & there’s no cell phone service. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, they’re all slowly vanishing…

Stars Brian Austin Green & Mena Suvari headline a cast of familiar faces that include Robert Picardo, Emelie O’Hara & Zack Ward among others. And while the idea of a film that toplines Mr. Green might not sound like your idea of a good movie, you’d be wrong in making that assumption. He really makes an impression here as Jack, who along with his girlfriend Tracy, are just looking for some down time at a nice resort with their friends. The circumstances the group discovers once they arrive at the resort might seem bland at first, but Oates has written a script that manages to make the mundane pretty damned creepy.Dont-Blink-2014-movie-Travis-Oates-(2)

 

All of the featured actors give top notch performances here with Ward essaying an especially memorable turn as Jack’s best friend, Alex. He goes from good ole’ boy to unhinged nutbag in the blink of an eye, and he does so impressively. One of the best things about the film is the way the cast settle into their roles like that pair of old sneakers that you just can’t get rid of because they feel so good on your feet. Each and every one of the characters here feel believable, despite their overall interchangeability. It’s extremely rare to find a genre film with a cast of characters as familiar as this one has, that still makes you care about their individual fates.

But that’s not the only thing that makes Don’t Blink special. Although the central idea isn’t especially new or different, the script takes pains to allow its audience to really get to know its characters. This in turn gives the viewer a vested interest in what’s happening & it fully succeeds in doing just that. As the various characters start disappearing into thin air, I felt my tension level rising ever so slightly. They don’t disappear in a puff of smoke or with some other big flourish either, they just literally vanish – with no sound at all. It’s a very simple & basic camera technique that’s being used here, but when used effectively & with purpose, it really works well.Dont-Blink-2014-movie-Travis-Oates-(5)

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My biggest issue with the film (& the reason I think a lot of you might not agree with my final assessment), is with its denouement. Whether its because of budgetary restrictions or just something that was written into the script, Don’t Blink ends with no answers given as to what’s going on. It allows the viewer to decide what’s really happening and while there are lots of ideas bandied about, none are acknowledged as being the final answer. While this really bothered me initially, I began to understand exactly what Oates was trying to achieve after awhile. He didn’t want his debut feature to fall into the trap that so many other low budget films fall into, mainly offering a lame reason for whatever is going on. He wants his audience to think about the time they’ve spent with his characters, learning about them & their relationships before the horror hits. And when the shit does hit the fan, and they start to vanish, he wants his audience to feel the same terror they’re feeling. As that’s going on, different ideas percolate as to the reasons behind it all, and everyone who watches this is going to have a different idea about why it’s happening.

I did some research and it seems that Oates biggest claim to fame is voicing Piglet in the most recent Winnie The Pooh films! While I’m sure that that was a well paying gig, I’m sure glad that he decided to write/direct Don’t Blink. He’s got a way with dialog and he obviously knows how to coax excellent performances from what some might deem to be a dubious cast. It also looks really good, with some wonderfully evocative panoramic shots of the surrounding mountains. It’s the most assured directorial genre debut I’ve seen in ages. There’s very little that’s wrong with this film.Dont-Blink-2014-movie-Travis-Oates-(3)

 

Except for that ending, but I liked it regardless. And while I really expected something different, Don’t Blink proves that you don’t need a slam bang ending to get your point across, a little ambiguity never hurts. And it isn’t a crime to allow your audience to use its collective noggin and think about things, rather than spoon feed them with glitzy special effects & the like. What I fear more than anything else is this film simply disappearing without a trace, much like its characters. It’s definitely flying under the radar, I hadn’t heard a single thing about it until I received a screener in the mail. I’m pretty sure that there isn’t a ton of promotional money pushing this movie either. But don’t let any of that stop you from seeking it out, If you see it in your local Redbox machine or on VOD/PPV, spend the $3 and treat yourself to one of the biggest surprises of 2014. I’m comfortable saying that Don’t Blink is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. Color me gobsmacked!

So don’t blink – or you’ll miss it!

Don’t Blink – 4 out of 5 shrouds.

Don’t Blink will be available on DVD on October 14th from Vertical Entertainment.

19 comments

  1. Probably one of the biggest pieces of crap I have ever endured. Poor writing, poor acting, no plot. Would rather chew steel wool than sit through this thing again. Save yourselves.

  2. I liked this film….superb/believable acting by entire cast…I was drawn in from the beginning and stayed, hoping for a resolution….fun film on a rainy night.

  3. I just found this movie on Netflix and didn’t let the low ratings persuade me not watch it. I really enjoyed it;. I think, however, the ending is where it gets its horrible ratings from, truth be told. While I loved the rest of the movie, I hated the ending of it with a passion! I won’t knock the whole thing just for that reason alone though; it kept me interested throughout and I got freaked out each time *POOF* a person disappeared. Maybe he’s planning a sequel to dig, and explain, a little further? :)

  4. I really loved the movie, the actor were very natural acting and there was lots of emotion and suspense. For me the plot was very clear it was telling you it didnt matter what you did you would still be erased. Maybe is about what some people thinks on how the world is gonna end, we all be vanished.

  5. Grrrrrr! Talk about let downs!
    I was tempted to fast forward to the end because I wanted to see what was going on so badly, but I endured.
    Sadly for nothing.
    There’s ten people, they disappear one by one, no explanation, the end.
    You could read that sentence and save yourself the time of watching it.

  6. Saw the movie today expecting something like “10 little indians”. Instead I found a movie that looks like a bad adaptation from a Stephen King story. Certainly theres no explanation for the ending but there is some strange dialogue that can lead us to some weak theories if we connect the dots. Look for a cord phone in the form of a Harlyley Motorcicle, used to sell those at Radio Shack, ajd notice that there is no handset cable and the jack is empty and yet they are having a conversation with that phone. Wanted to like the movie but at the end is just a waste of time.

  7. sophia conwell

    bad acting, yet something about this film kept the glued to the screen something about the strange disappearance made me want to keep watching. definitely a supernatural occurance going on at that lodge i don’t want to visit that place lol

  8. Marqui Yearling

    I just finished watching Don’t Blink with my fiance and we both enjoyed this movie. I mean the ending does leave you to your thoughts but i love movies that force you to ponder. All together Travis Oates did a very good job!

  9. Professor Zeitgeist

    Hey, I have a great idea for a story… only I don’t, I don’t know what the story is about. No clue, but let me make a movie anyway, OK? Cool.

    “…hits one out of the park”? Oh, Black Saint, if I ever make a horrible, horrible movie, I hope you review it for me. Clearly you are willing to walk a country mile to make incompetent storytelling sound good.

  10. The Black Saint

    I anxiously await your horrible, horrible feature film Professor Zeitgeist. It’ll be my pleasure to make your self professed incompetent storytelling sound good.

    As to my opinion of “Don’t Blink”, well I think you can see from the comments so far that it is a rather polarizing flick. Some like it, some don’t – I happened to like it quite a bit. I wasn’t expecting too much & was pleasantly surprised by what I got. Apparently you weren’t.

    No harm, no foul. We all have opinions. Thanks for reading!

  11. I thought it would have been interesting. Guess not. I mean, what was the point?

  12. i liked it i think it is similar to the left behind shows thats my opinion

  13. I’m a movie lover not a hater – I go into everything with reasonable expectations wanting to love it and way more often than not I do – this movie does have some great performances – Zach Ward in particular – but it’s a total f*cking cheat! Its fine to force the viewer to answer some questions but ALL of them?! It’s my job to enjoy the story not write it! Where did everyone go? You decide. Where did all the nature go? You decide. Why did the temperature change? You decide. Why, where and how is everyone disappearing? Go f*ck yourself and then decide. It’s fine to say the actors do a good job and there are some tense and effective moments but I don’t see how anyone can say the movie as a whole is anything but a big disappointment.

  14. The Black Saint

    I didn’t find it disappointing in the least Sol. I think part of the reason I enjoyed it as much as I did is because I expected so little from it. While everyone who disliked the film (& there are a lot of you out there apparently), has valid arguments as to why they disliked it – I found it rather refreshing & different.

    I’d just like to add that I’m really happy that I got some people to give the movie a shot, regardless of whether or not they agree with my assessment. I think the dialogue here in this thread is important. Thanks to all of you who took a few moments to offer your opinions.

  15. Yandiel Rivera

    What a strange movie?! The beginning of the movie needed some tweaking with some bad acting, in my opinion, but the acting got better as the movie progressed. Truly at first I thought it was a serial killer but by the 3rd or 4th missing person I was thinking wtf is going on?!
    The ending definitely sucked, but I think not in the way you’d think. It needed a bit of substance in the end because the movie started getting really good and then boom you’re hit with a typical horror movie ending.
    Sucks booty :/

  16. Are you frickin’ kidding me? This is equivalent to painting a canvas all black and calling it art. Even on Sesame Street they teach you that a story consists of a beginning, a middle and an end. When they film the end and publish it I might watch it.

    If anyone was entertained by this, I would definitely stick with that frontal lobotomy. It’s working for ya 8)

  17. The ending sucked, that is all!

  18. Closing comments on this 1. I think people will get the point. some love it, others don’t. In fact now I “want” to see this film to see what’s causing so much stir. The comments are starting to incur spam, almost like personal attacks. So best to shut it down