Don’t Blink


“I’ve read enough Stephen King to know that nothing safe comes back from that dark place.”

Main Cast: Brian Austen Green, Zac Ward

Director: Travis Oates

Sometimes I’ll pick a movie not because it looks great or because I like the director or the stars.  Sometimes I’ll pick a movie just because I want to see if it sucks as much as I think it will.  Like the 2014 movie DON’T BLINK from writer/director Travis Oates.

The trailer shows a bunch of people showing up to a mountain resort and, one by one, they start to disappear. They’re not being picked off by a killer, they’re just literally vanishing in the blink of an eye.

One scene from the trailer shows a small group of them standing around a kitchen, the refrigerator door opens and, when it closes again, the girl behind the door is now gone.

Now, my immediate thought was purgatory. They’ve all died and, when they vanish, it’s because they’re all being shuffled off to Heaven and the last shot of the movie is gonna be some big pile up on the highway up to the resort where we discover everyone’s been dead this whole time and the resort was really just purgatory.

Well, you’d think that being so certain I’d figured out the movie before I even saw it would be enough to make me stay away and go watch something smarter than me. Nah. My ego said I HAVE to watch DON’T BLINK now just to see if I’m as smart as I thought.

So I spent 90 minutes plus a small handful of 20-second commercials (DON’T BLINK is streaming “free with ads” on Vudu and Freevee) watching Jack (Brian Austin Green, Beverly Hills 90120) and Tracy (Mena Suvari, AMERICAN BEAUTY) and their friends Claire (Joanne Kelly, Severance), Alex (Zac Ward, A CHRISTMAS STORY), Ella (Fiona Gubelmann, The Good Doctor), Sam (Leif Gantvoort, NCIS), Noah (David de Lautor, Touch), Charlotte (Samantha Jacober, JOSHY), Lucas (Curtiss Frisle, 9-1-1: Lone Star) and Amelia (Emelie O’Hara, In Plain Sight) arrive at this incredibly beautiful mountain resort only to find there’s no one there to help them check in.

Nor are there any other guests.  Oh, there’s evidence of other guests.  Make-up has been left in the bathroom.  There are plates of food in the dining room.  There’s a pair of gloves and a cup of coffee on the balcony.  There’s even a drawn bath in one cabin.  But no people.

They split up to search and this is when we find the first clues of something being REALLY wrong—even though the characters never find these clues, ever throughout the entire movie, they’re just there for the audience.  In the kitchen, on the inside of a cupboard, someone has written “Help Me”, and in one of the cabins, on the bathroom mirror, someone has written in lipstick “Don’t Blink.”

Again, the characters NEVER see these messages.

Once they’ve all gathered together again in the parking lot to discuss the possibility of trying to leave (all of their cars are out of gas, or low enough they won’t make it more than 40 miles tops; Alex wants to give it a shot, Jack says nothing doing), Tracy disappears.  One minute she’s there with the group and once the hubbub dies down, she’s not.

They try to search for her, but in doing so Noah disappears.  This upsets his girlfriend Ella, and now Alex and Sam are both determined to get the hell out of there.

As more and more of them vanish, tensions rise and everyone is understandably stressed and very upset.

Then, in another move that’s never explained, Noah comes knocking on the door.

Where’ve you been, they ask.

I fell in a hole, he says, and woke up outside.

Seems sketchy.  Maybe you’re not really Noah.  Maybe you’re an alien or some monster who looks like Noah.

And this is when things took a serious turn for one of the characters.  Noah gets shot (someone brought a gun) and dragged back outside, then his screaming stops and all the blood from his wounds is suddenly gone just like Noah is, and this encounter is never referenced again, meanwhile I’m thinking WHAT THE HOLY HELL?  He “fell in a hole”???  Noah and Ella were INSIDE THE RESORT when he disappeared!  So how the hell did he fall into a hole and wind up outside?  Come on, movie, you’re so close to providing some kind of explanation and satisfying this viewer’s curiosity!

Or you could totally sweep that whole encounter under the rug and get on with the rest of the movie, I guess that’s another option you could go with…

And in the end, was I right?  Was it all just purgatory?  If that’s your big takeaway from this, I will at least give you this: no, it’s not purgatory.  I won’t tell you how it ends or what the final solution was, but I will give you some bad and some good about the movie.

First, the bad.  This is writer/director Travis Oates’s first movie and I’m gonna say this was a half-formed idea he had that he didn’t spend a lot of time outlining and redrafting.  There are holes in here big enough to … well, to fall into and wind up outside.

At one point, Claire and Alex find a frozen lake despite temps at the resort being much higher.  Later, they remark it’s gotten at least fifty degrees colder in the last few hours.  Okay, so what?  Does the weather play a part in what’s going on?  No idea, because that thread is never followed.

There’s a sex scene thrown into the middle that comes out of friggin’ nowhere and serves only to set up another disappearance, which could just as easily have been handled exactly the same without the pointless sex scene, but whatever.

In one scene, again, out of nowhere, Sam is seen squeezing a piece of glass in his palm until he bleeds, then he goes off to join everyone else in the kitchen.  WHAT?  Wait, WHAT???

And then there’s the Noah situation.  I’m sorry, I really thought that scene was going to at least move toward some direction that might look like an answer of SOME kind, however vague that answer might be, but I was dead wrong.

So many of these scenes just feel like Oates was on set and thinking, “Ok, what happens next?  Um, lemme look around and see what’s just lying here.  Oh look, a broken piece of glass.  What if someone squeezes it in their hand until they bleed?  Yeah, cool, it’s not only in the movie, it is definitely in the movie!  ACTION!”

He clearly needed someone over his shoulder telling him, “Dude, that’s not how stories work.  You don’t have to explain EVERYTHING, but most things should have a definite reason for happening, cause and effect, this script has got to be tightened up.”  Another draft or two of the script, and I think DON’T BLINK could have been a really effective movie.

Which brings me to the good.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Brian Austin Green acted his ass off here.  Between him and Zac Ward (a friend of Oates and the part of Alex was written for him), there were some really good performances here.  Joanne Kelly had a few shining moments later on, as well as Emelie O’Hara in a scene or two.

I won’t say everyone was at the top of their game and a few performances were middling at best, but the ones who did the thing really did the thing here.  I expected as much from Zac Ward, whom I’ve always liked, but this movie is actually going to make me see Brian Austin Green in a whole new light, not just as the ex-husband of Megan Fox.

In the end, DON’T BLINK helped pass 90 minutes and got one more movie off my “to be watched” queue.  It didn’t do a whole hell of a lot else, though.  There’s a reason I’m not talking about the ending.

If you’re not into satisfying endings, though, I can easily recommend this.  It’s got some excellent set pieces and some surprisingly good performances, but where it falls down, it really falls hard.  You can watch it, just don’t expect a whole lot.

More Horror Corner

Mercy ~ The Friendship Game ~ The Harvesting

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get Netflix Dates emailed free to you every week