Blackout follows the story of Harley Roberts (Timothy Woodward Jr.), a young, successful lawyer with everything to lose. Roberts has just made junior partner at his law firm and is about to marry the woman of his dreams. However, his perfect life is put on hold after a lapse in memory coincides with the discovery of a young woman’s body in his home. Roberts seeks help from his best friend and colleague, Alfred Lewis (Robert Convington), to prove his innocence and save his career and the woman he loves.
At first glance, I could not help but think, oh great, yet another film about memory loss. It’s an overdone concept and is rarely taken as far as it can be. Not every film can be a Memento, and most, well, hit closer to the cheesiest parts of The Hangover. For this type of film to succeed, the audience must be completely engrossed by the characters. Otherwise, when they retrace their steps and ultimately solve the mystery, we couldn’t care less. That being said, I enjoyed this film, though I do have a few reservations.
Blackout begins a little bumpy. Instead of introducing us to Roberts or any other characters, we are instead shown a long montage of drinking and debauchery. A scene reminiscent of Dude, Where’s my Car?, but followed by less story. When Roberts finds a young woman’s bloodied body in his shower, just a few minutes into the film, we know so little about him that it’s hard to even care. A seemingly “douchey” young lawyer is not exactly a selling point for an audience. Especially one who has just spent the night out before a big promotion at work. From who you ask, well, his fiancee’s father of course.
That being said, Woodward’s performance as Roberts was solid. Even though his character is slow to develop, and even a little underdeveloped, I did want him to succeed by the end of the film. His fiance, Sophie, played by Chelsea Reeves, also came across as authentic and likable. Although I would have liked to see much more of their relationship. Their distance in the film made them feel more like siblings than lovers.
Rommel the concierge, played by the spooky Bill Oberst Jr., was also a nice addition to the cast. I often enjoy his performances, even when in this case, I did not understand the strange and almost metaphysical qualities of his character. This is also the case for Robert’s best friend, Alfred, whose motivation remains mostly vague by the film’s end, making his Nicolas Cage style freak out all the more bizarre.
The camera work and editing are smooth, as is the nice understated soundtrack, something that works well with this kind of psychological thriller. In the end, Blackout is a well made indie film, and though I have reservations, it delivers psychological thrills and keeps the audience guessing. Being that this is Matthew K. Hacker‘s first feature film, I think it is a solid start to his career. However, the unresolved quality of the story he chose to use left me wanting a bit more.
Scheduled for VOD & IVOD release July 5th.
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