Don’t Blink (Vertical Entertainment, NR)

Dont-Blink 75Don’t Blink is no cinematic masterpiece, but it’s an OK horror movie perfect for home viewing with a group of friends.

Dont-Blink 500

The premise of Don’t Blink will be familiar to any fan of horror movies, or for that matter of Agatha Christie novels. A group of people head off for some fun in an isolated location. Then they find out that they’re even more cut off from the rest of the world than they expected, weird stuff starts to happen, and things escalate to the conclusion.

In the case of Don’t Blink, the characters are ten attractive young adults planning to spend the weekend at a mountain cabin. Writer/director Travis Oates doesn’t tell us much about each one, and that’s fine, because he understands that they are really just cogs in the plot. He also provides early signs that this will be no ordinary weekend in the country. First, on the way to the cabin, one character notes that they don’t see any cars driving in the opposite direction, then a conversation about how low on gas they are, then when they arrive at the cabin and are greeted by a sign saying “last gas for 300 miles” followed by the discovery that the pumps presumably meant to deliver said gas don’t work.

It gets stranger from there. As in The Andromeda Strain, there are all the signs of normal life abruptly interrupted throughout the cabin—food in the refrigerator, a bath drawn, lipstick open on a counter—but no people and no sign of what happened to them. Could it be the rapture? Thankfully, that possibility is not explored in this film, but one by one the characters simply start to disappear. The meaning of the title soon becomes clear, because it only happens when the characters are unobserved—look away, or blink, for a split second, and poof someone vanishes into thin air.

Don’t Blink is not big on explanations, so there’s no And Then There Were None exposition about why these characters received their fates. Instead, it’s just a mystery, and that ups the tension because you have no idea who will be next or how it will all end.

Oates has an expert control of horror film conventions, and there are plenty of boo scares starting near the very beginning of the film. In fact, you could call Don’t Blink a celebration of horror conventions, and I mean that in the nicest way—it’s a well-executed film, even if it’s not terribly original, and you could make a game of spotting all the references to prior films, which include many classics of the genre.

The cast of Don’t Blink is adequate, and you don’t need more than that for this kind of film. Mena Suvari is hyped in the publicity, but she doesn’t really have much to do. Brian Austin Green probably gets the most screen time, while Zack Ward creates a version of a grown-up Scut Farkas (from A Christmas Story)—he’s still a jerk, but now he’s a jerk with a gun who gets threatened by things he doesn’t understand. All in all, Don’t Blink is no cinematic masterpiece, but it’s an OK horror movie perfect for home viewing with a group of friends.

There are no extras on the disc. | Sarah Boslaugh

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