Saturday, November 12, 2011

Panic Button and Joining the Mile Die Club: A Movie Review

Director: Chris Crow.

Writers: Frazer Lee, John Shackleton, David Shillito and Chris Crow.

Panic Button is a United Kingdom shot indie film that was recently released on Blu-Ray, DVD and video-on-demand. Made for under $300K UK pounds Panic Button takes place on a small jet with four distressed characters wanting to get off this doomed flight. Comparable to the Saw franchise, Nine Dead and early parts of Marcus Grave's Choose as there are tough choices here, this film can be a little predictable while also raising some important internet issues e.g. cyber bullying, privacy.

Max (Jack Gordon), Jo (Scarlett Alice Johnson), Dave (Michael Jibson), and Gwen (Elen Rhys) have won the trip of a life time or so they think. A trip to New York City promises excitement while a pixelated alligator also promises SUVs, diamonds and assorted contest winnings. All they have to do is sign the terms and conditions to let a friendly game begin. Of course, no one reads the fine print and soon these characters are having the dark side of their lives exposed for the others' entertainment. Then the announcer ups the ante by having each character turn on the other to ensure a loved one's survival. If this sounds like Saw, that is because it is - minus the deadly traps.

There are moral choices to be made here and the Alligator forces difficult choices upon the child pornographer, the virgin, the alcoholic and the mystery man. Once you get called to the bathroom by the villain for a private one on one chat, you just know that that character will be taking a swing at one of the others, under duress, when they get out. The dialogue does not need to be heard because these situations have come up in the past within film and Panic Button suffers from some issues of predictability. Teamwork is a valuable commodity in the horror genre, but it is not found here.

However, the film does get some story elements right. Simply put, this film is socially relevant. Issues of cyber bullying, internet privacy and disguising oneself on the internet are intriguing issues and this large group of writers bring some great topics aboard their small four seater jet. As well, their are some moral lessons here. While not giving the plot away, their is a personal reason why the Alligator is torturing these poor damaged souls and his reason might be justified depending on how much viewers value family and revenge.

This plane ride is only ninety minutes and Panic Button is a thrilling time spent with some characters who are painted overly dark. Surely they had some good qualities as well. The low budget for this production does not hamper the production, with the film shot in high quality digital. The acting is believable, there is constant tension and there is a moral message lying under all those bodies, somewhere. So, this reviewer would recommend that you buy your ticket and hop aboard this plane that will take viewers through a nightmare and back with only the conclusion or the landing and the pilot a little unsteady.

Overall: 7 out of 10 (the ending is ambivalent, well written, directing techniques are simple due to the confining setting, acting is good).

Another review of this title at DVD Active (Marcus Doidge):

Panic Button Reviewed at DVD Active

The film's fan page is here:

Panic Button's Official Website

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