Blackout, written by Pia Cook and directed by Matthew K. Hacker, starts off with a tone you're not quite expecting as a nightclub beat companions scenes of strippers, money flowing and guys getting drunk amidst what could easily pass for the 70's party scene. When we flash forward to the next morning, young attorney Harley (Timothy Woodward, Jr.) wakes up alongside his girlfriend (Chelsea Reeves).
It's not too long until we find out that something is different. Harley discovers a dead body in the bathroom, a discovery for which he has no explanation and no recall. He heads off to his meeting, after all where's a dead and half-naked woman going, and returns to realize that what he'd seen wasn't the result of his own drunken stupor but appears to be very, very real.
Harley does what any reasonable person would do. No, silly. He doesn't call the cops. He dumps the body. Then, the next day another one shows up. Then another.
Well, you get the idea.
Blackout isn't necessarily consumed with the story behind the mysterious bodies, but in the story of Harley and how these sudden and unexplainable things that keep happening to him impact his own psyche'. He involves a friend, Alfred (Robert Covington), but Blackout is ultimately how all of this impacts Harley, those around him and his own life. Indie horror fave Bill Oberst, Jr. is also here as Rommel, a mysterious concierge.
Blackout was never a film that grabbed me like I want a psychological thriller film to grab me. It was interesting, but interesting isn't quite good enough for a psychological and almost spiritual thriller film. This is Hacker's first feature film and it feels like a first feature film. That may sound like an insult, but it's truly not intended to be. Blackout has a majority of the pieces needed for it to be a mighty fine feature film, but the puzzle just isn't quite put together in a way that compels and draws you in. Beginning with that overly stylized and lengthy opening scene, Blackout has pacing issues and tonal issues that pull us away every time we start to get engrossed.
If it sounds like I'm beating up on the film, well I suppose I am a little bit. However, a 2 1/2-star rating is still a modest recommendation and that may have very well been my greatest frustration. This is a film worth watching, but I have a feeling Hacker is capable of much greater things. The performances are for the most part competent, though Oberst offers up his usual dependable performance and Covington has a couple of solid moments to shine.
Joe Ensley's lensing is trippy and creative, while the film also features a solid original score. Blackout was filmed in North Carolina and has been picked up by Status Media for a comprehensive VOD and IVOD distribution on such outlets as Vudu, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Google, Shaw On Demand, Youtube and others. For more information and to help decide for yourself if it's a film for you, check out the film's website listed in the credits on the left.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic