Don’t Blink Review

by Nav Qateel

A group of 10 friends are headed to a secluded mountain resort. With practically no gas left in any of the cars, the group arrive to discover the resort’s gas pumps are switched off leaving them stranded. There’s also not a soul to be found anywhere. They find signs of recent activity, but where has everyone gone? Not long after settling into the lodge, the friends start to vanish one by one … in the blink of an eye.

From first-time writer-director Travis Oates, Don’t Blink is a mystery-horror that effectively shows the breakdown of the group dynamic, and near-madness begin to take hold as their numbers inexplicably start to dwindle. For a debut movie, Oates’ writing and direction shows a level of maturity not seen often enough at this end of the low-budget spectrum.

Our group arrive at the mountain lodge, and they finally begin to settle in after having accepted the fact that the shortage of gas is preventing them from leaving. Of course, there’s also the compulsory and cliched lack of a cell-phone signal too, but in this instance it at least fits believably within the narrative. On at least two occasions they miss the ominous messages “Help Me” and “Don’t Blink,” that appear to have been left by previous victims. We quickly learn just what “Don’t Blink” actually means.

Don’t Blink
Written & Directed by
Travis Oates
Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Joanne Kelly
Release Date
18 September 2014
Nav’s Grade: B

When the first two suddenly go missing, it’s presumed they’ve gone off on their own, and after a search of the lodge and surrounding grounds by the remaining group, they make an unnerving discovery. As well as it appearing as though everyone from the lodge had somehow vanished just before they had arrived, there’s also no bird or insect life to be found, anywhere. And no one can come up with a rational explanation as to the cause. As they continue to vanish in front of one another, and with their numbers quickly decreasing, they find they’re powerless to prevent it from happening, which cause some of them to finally crack.

The ensemble does some fine work here and there are one or two standouts, with the prolific Zack Ward particularly strong. Ward plays Alex, a thoroughly unlikable character who we get to see slowly go from group clown, then descend to paranoia then finally madness. In fact, in a somewhat unusual step by Oates (AKA Piglet from Winnie the Pooh) there were no clear characters for us to root for or sympathise with, which I guess is just as well considering their fate. As well as great acting, the production was solid with fantastic practical effects, aided by clever editing.

In his inaugural film, director Travis Oates examines how a group cope in a high-pressure situation where they find themselves completely helpless, in a scenario that has clear supernatural undertones. Don’t Blink is polished, and while there isn’t a great deal of new ground being broken here, there’s certainly enough to keep fans of the mystery/horror genre extremely satisfied. A definite must see.