The Movie Waffler New Release Review - DOUBLE BLIND | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - DOUBLE BLIND

Double Blind review
A group of medical test subjects find themselves trapped in a sinister facility.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Ian Hunt-Duffy

Starring: Millie Brady, Pollyanna McIntosh, Akshay Kumar, Abby Fitz

Double Blind poster

You might want to consume a few cups of coffee to stay awake during Double Blind. Not because Ian Hunt-Duffy's directorial debut is boring, but because its plot machinations result in the viewer watching a bunch of absolutely knackered characters constantly yawning while sporting massive bags under their eyes. Like A Nightmare on Elm Street, it's a horror movie where sleep spells certain doom for its protagonists, though it has more in common with John Carpenter's The Thing in pitting its paranoid players against one another.

A "double blind" clinical trial is one where none of the test subjects receive a placebo. Desperate for cash for initially ambiguous reasons, Claire signs up for such a trial in a medical research facility somewhere in Ireland. She's joined by six other young test subjects, including the overly chatty Alison (Abby Fitz), medical student Amir (Akshay Kumar) and macho Ray (Diarmuid Noyes). The test is overseen by Dr. Burke (Pollyanna McIntosh), who appears cold on the outside but displays fears for the subjects when the trial takes an unexpected and worrying turn. All seven subjects find themselves unable to sleep, a condition which lasts for several days. Seeking answers from her superiors, Burke is met with a wall of silence at first, and then a literal wall when the subjects are left alone as the facility is put under a 24 hour lockdown.

Double Blind review

At first the youngsters assume all they need to do is stay put until the clock runs down and they're freed. But Amir, who has been snooping on the facility's computers, has some very bad news: fall asleep and they'll most certainly die; and everyone is beginning to feel very, very drowsy.

It's an intriguing setup, but one the film never manages to live up to. As the protagonists search for a way out of their predicament the film rifles through various genre drawers in search of an identity. There's an element of The Thing as the group grows suspicious that one of their own may be working against them. There's a lot of body horror as blood seeps from every orifice of the subjects when they eventually nod off. As with Galaxy of Terror and Event Horizon, our heroes experience hallucinations tied in to their individual primal fears. One character goes all Jack Torrance, chasing the others through the facility while wielding a sharp instrument.

Double Blind review

Double Blind never settles on which type of horror movie it wants to be. It's most indebted to Carpenter's The Thing and Prince of Darkness, with a pulsing synth score by Die Hexen to hammer home the point. But the who-is-the-villain aspect of The Thing doesn't work here because the movie seeks to make the audience guess whether one particular character is working for or against their fellow lab rats despite having explicitly answered that question in an earlier scene. The subsequent Agatha Christie structure is rendered null and void.

You might also make a case that Double Blind has picked the wrong character to make its audience cypher. Claire isn't especially interesting, and certainly not very likeable. Amir seems like a more obvious choice for who to position as the protagonist. He's the smartest, most sensible guy in the room, and could have taken the position of Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men as he attempts to convince his less enlightened fellow triallists to come around to his ideas. In these increasingly anti-intellectual times, where experts are so often scoffed at rather than heeded, such a switch may have made the film more resonant.

Double Blind review

It's a shame Double Blind fumbles its storytelling as in every other aspect it's an impressive, polished production that squeezes every cent out of its limited budget. The young cast members display enough individual talent to humanise their archetypal characters, with Fitz especially compelling as a troubled young woman who masks her inner pain with a fake bubbly persona. The film has a slick look and makes great use of the clinical surrounds of its setting. And aside from some dodgy CG flames at one point, the visual effects are as good as many bigger budgeted genre films. But when it comes to crafting a compelling story, Double Blind needs to up its dosage.

Double Blind is on UK/ROI VOD from May 13th.

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