At first appearance the 2014 psychological horror film ‘Don’t Blink’, now on Netflix, presents itself as a cliched scary movie with a group of young friends headed up to a remote mountain resort. It indeed starts off that way but quickly works its way into a creepy viscerous story that captures your full attention. Written and directed by Travis Oates, ‘Don’t Blink’ follows ten friends as they find their ideal vacation resort eerily deserted with breakfast still on the table and cars still with the keys in the ignition. With out enough gas to make a safe enough escape the friends are forced to try and figure out what happened to the other guests as they too begin to literally disappear.
Travis Oates’ film is not only well directed, the screenplay is also well written, well most of it. Oates’ script takes several characters that are remarkably believable and puts them in a very strange and horrifying situation that there is no escape from. Simple tricks to stun the audience with a character’s sudden disappearance work effectively enough to run a chill up your spine. A few times you know what is about to happen, but Oates plays with the audience and delivers the moment with maddening patience. Most of the reactions to the situation and the fear of who’s next are believable while others leave you scratching your head in confusion. Holes in the plot and unanswered questions will actually fill you with anger. One main character loves his girlfriend so much but when she disappears he has no regrets sleeping with an ex, even in the middle of all this dread. One character that is new to the group of friends acts completely odd before they even realize what is happening, and there is no explanation as to why.
One character brings up a personal matter that she hasn’t revealed to her boyfriend, and it adds nothing to the story, nor does the boyfriend even show any second thought about that situation when his girlfriend disappears. The biggest hole in the film is the story itself. Oates delivers a frightful story that carries through out the film for a big build up, and then drops it as if he couldn’t figure out an ending. There is no explanation of the phenomenon, nor are there any clues anywhere to let viewers draw their own conclusion. The film just ends. There is a hint of others knowing what is taking place, but there is no back story or information of these characters either. It’s a real let down and a frustrating ending which mistakenly destroys everything Oates has done thus far.
The actors do their best in their roles and truly look terrified and on the brink of mental break down. Mena Suvari, known for her roles in “American Beauty” and “American Pie” is the most known actress with a very small role, leaving fans disappointed. Brian Austin Green, known for the original “Beverly Hills 90210” is the only other well known face whose character does little else than argue with everyone. Fans of the television show “Warehouse 13” will recognize Joanne Kelly who played Myka now playing Claire in ‘Don’t Blink’. She looks right at home with the unexplained going on, portraying fear and the voice of reason at the same time. Zack Ward as Alex steals the attention. Known for his role as Scut Farkus in the classic “A Christmas Story”, Ward’s Alex plays the hothead who begrudgingly makes a lot of sense. He delivers the most emotional moments on screen, from fear to anger to defeat. He doesn’t agree with his friends decisions but he sticks by them, literally to the end.
Writer and director Travis Oates takes a seemingly simple idea and turns it into a true psychological and terrifying film until the end. ‘Don’t Blink’ has all the makings to become a memorable horror film with a perfect location, a dire situation, and an unexplained phenomenon. Instead Travis Oates creates a teaser film of what could have been and then disappoints so badly that viewers won’t remember all the terrifying moments that happened through out the film, they will only remember how angry they were at the ending.