It isn’t an easy thing to set a film in one location, you have to provide solid character development, strong actors, and a good hook to snag the viewer in. 2007’s Blackout, directed by Rigoberto Castañeda is mostly set in one singular location, an elevator that has broken down due to a “blackout,” as the title of the film would suggest. The film centers around three people from different walks of life that would otherwise never interact with one another, except in the chance that an elevator in their apartment building would shut down, leaving them trapped together for an extended period of time.
Each character is in a rush to get somewhere, Claudia (Amber Tamblyn) is trying to get to the hospital where her grandmother is looking to leave our world at any second. Tommy (Armie Hammer) is about to leave town with his girlfriend, Francesca (Katie Stuart) after he discovers the abuse that she receives from her alcoholic father (played by an uncredited, Mark Boone Junior). Karl (Aidan Gillen) is in a hurry to meet with his daughter whom he promised to spend the weekend with. Getting stuck in an elevator for a long period of time really isn’t on the agenda for any of these characters, nerves fray, tension rises and the real personalities of each person starts to come out and not in a good way for one of them.
All three characters have a secret of some sort and those secrets are revealed through a series of flashbacks that are the bulk of the entire run of the film. It is very early on when the trio are trapped in the elevator, but almost right away Blackout goes from lame flashback to lame flashback taking you right out of the elevator setting. These flashbacks are barely engaging and as opposed to the rest of the film, they are poorly executed with weak editing and annoying ghost like dreamy voices. Outside of the lame flashbacks, Blackout is well crafted and very reminiscent of a David Fincher film in technique and style (and even score), though not nearly as adept, but still well done. Even though there is a solid presence of style, there really was no sort of substance to be found anywhere in my time spent with Blackout.
As a “horror” film, there is very little horror to be had, outside of an interesting way to cause a victim (that is not in the elevator!) pain and a nice gag at the end of the film. Too little too late, unfortunately, as by the halfway point, I was already checking to see how much time was left in the movie. Even at a scant 85 minutes, I was just as anxious as the characters in the elevator for it all to be over with.
You never feel a sense of claustrophobia, which is a necessity when trapping your characters in an elevator for an extended period of time and the plot and character arcs are so insanely predictable, that it is almost laughable. One of the three inhabitants is revealed (right on the poster!) to have a dark secret that would be considered quite the threat to the other two and figuring that out is all too easy. There is a good idea in there somewhere, but that idea showed up and was done correctly in 1997’s Cube. A movie I would totally suggest seeing over Blackout.