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  • Rev Horror


Dir. Larry Fessenden (2024)

A painter begins to believe that he transforms into a werewolf when the moon is full.

Indie werewolf movies are hard to pull off successfully, but if there was anyone I would trust with getting it right, it would be Larry Fessenden. One of the true masters of indie horror filmmaking, Fessenden has directed more than a dozen feature films in his impressive career and has more than a hundred acting roles as well. Suffice to say, he knows what he's doing both in front of and behind the camera, and he brings his considerable talent to this werewolf flick about a painter who believes that he is undergoing a lycanthropic transformation.

Charley's (Alex Hurt) life is falling apart: he's an alcoholic painter who has lost everyone he's cared about, living in a roadside motel and trying to make ends meet after the death of his corrupt lawyer father. The town he lives in shares that air of corruption, and he does his best to fight for anyone who is attempting to share the truth about the town's crooked underbelly. When bodies begin to be found around town, Harry believes that he's becoming a werewolf, his art beginning to reflect the darkness inside of him.

With performances by Marshall Bell (Starship Troopers, Total Recall) and the incomparable Barbara Crampton (too many to list), Blackout is an exceptionally well-acted film that nevertheless struggles to find its footing at times and often is a little more convoluted than it needs to be. It is ostensibly a werewolf movie but is just as much a socially conscious horror film, dealing with themes of racism, classism, and corruption, doing its best to comment on these issues while maintaining the facade of a more straightforward horror. These are all valuable discussions, and horror is a fantastic conduit through which to discuss them. Despite the areas where the film excels, however, it does at time feel a little jumbled as it bites off a little more than it can chew.

It does, however, excel in a lot of areas. The acting is top notch, not a surprise with Crampton involved, and star Hurt does a phenomenal job in his role. Most of the bit players are excellent as well, making it a watchable film even if its not your cup of tea. The writing and direction, likewise, are good. There are some great shots throughout, and the production values of the film are a lot better than you usually expect to see from an indie film. It's also far deeper than it seems on the surface, digging beyond a shallow werewolf movie and carrying a decent amount of social import along with it. It is that last bit that does keep it from reaching the heights it would otherwise see, however, and the lofty aspirations cloud what could have otherwise been an excellent werewolf film.

As it stands, Blackout is still almost all the way there. It's very well done, and while it may lack some of the creature effects of Baker's An American Werewolf in London, everything else here is a hit. The themes of grief, failure, and loss all resound exceptionally well throughout, and the gore is decent enough and fairly strong for an indie film. Despite the slight convolution of its plot, it's a fantastic indie werewolf flick that is well worth a watch. Fessenden gets it done, and you can't ask for a whole lot more from an indie werewolf horror/drama.

Who this movie is for: Werewolf movie fans, Social horror aficionados, Landscape painters

Bottom line: Blackout is very good, though the first hour can be a bit of a slog. The themes of town corruption and the ails of society can be a bit on the nose, though certainly worth discussing, but pretty much every other area of the film is a hit. Larry Fessenden is a legend in the indie horror community, and he once again proves his stuff is worth checking out. If you get a chance to watch Blackout, I definitely recommend doing so. You're not going to see very many indie werewolf films done better than this.

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