Panic Button – DVD Review

Just how much information do you give away online? This Welsh independent horror/thriller directed by Chris Crow certainly makes you ponder. Panic Button has secured a number of international distribution deals after its premiere at Cannes Film Festival. A unique premise, well developed characters and a decent cast make this film evidence that low budgets are no excuse for poor film making.

The location is a small private jet. Four young people including a single mother, a handsome computer whizz, a misogynistic lad and a sweet blonde have boarded thinking they are competition winners flying to New York courtesy of the social networking site they subscribe to, ‘All2gethr.com’. They must hand over their mobile phones before boarding, due to the in-flight ‘gaming experience’. There are no pilots or air hostesses, only an anonymous voyeuristic voice appearing from a television screen showing a cartoon talking Alligator. The mysterious voice leads a series of ‘games’ and as the rounds become increasingly more disconcerting it is apparent he knows their online history, secrets and personal indiscretions and will use them for ruthless humiliation and punishment. The film turns progressively more violent as the ‘games’ transforms into individual ‘tasks’, given in the aeroplane toilet in a mock ‘Big Brother’ diary room style.

Psychological drama is fused with a ‘Saw’ like element of torture punishment for moral wrongs. Yet, arguably unlike Saw, it effectively never flaunts the violence simply for the hell of it. The horror has a degree of surprising subtlety, displaying what is necessary to shock, but no more. The viewer does not have to be tortured along with the characters. The claustrophobic environment heightens the tension and the original concept and contemporary issue gives a refreshing unpredictability. The atmosphere is uneasy from the outset yet it isn’t clear why. Why are they here? What have they done? The tension slowly and effectively builds. The film explores the contrast between an external identity and the one shared online. The characters develop from the stock stereotypes often present in horror films into people with actual depth, with hidden desires and motives.

The often pointless blood and gore in horror films can be tiresome, yet Panic Button has a truthful element and clear motive underneath the sensational torture drama. In a not overly serious fashion it questions the potential power and dangers of internet communication. You will think twice whether Facebook is worth it after watching this one.

3/5

Panic Button was released in the UK on DVD on 7th November

 

 

 

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