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Panic Button (2011)



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Panic ButtonStarring Scarlett Alice Johnson, Jack Gordon, Michael Jibson, Elen Rhys

Directed by Chris Crow

You may just wish to rethink how strong a prevalence online social networking has in your life after viewing Chris Crow’s British techno-thriller Panic Button. Four individuals by the name of Jo, Max, Dave and Gwen are the lucky winners of a competition hosted by social network site – the Grand Prize being an all expenses paid trip to New York. Meeting at the airport, the gang introduce themselves to each other and are then led onto the flight, where they are informed that in order to claim their prize they must partake in, and complete, an in-flight game. The rules stipulate that before boarding, each much relinquish their mobile phones and any other way to contact the world on the ground.

Once on their private jet, the foursome are seated in individual chairs with a monitor for eac, and waste no time getting stuck in to the complimentary champagne while getting to know their travel partners. Shortly after takeoff, an animated alligator appears on-screen, and a gentlemanly voice welcomes them to the game over the embedded speaker system. The first round begins with a series of questions for each that it is stressed must be answered truthfully, or repercussions will follow. Personal questions are asked of the contestants, who react glibly with lies and half-truths before the Alligator abruptly reveals the, at times very uncomfortable, true answers to their questions using information gleaned from their All2Gether profiles and traced interactions at other online sites.

Furthermore, the penalty for failing to answer these questions honestly is revealed to be the death of a random friend from the failing contestant’s profile, displayed on their monitors in a real-time first-person perspective courtesy of the organisation’s goons stationed outside each acquaintance’s home. Coming to terms with the severity of the situation, and with a little technical abuse of their own, the group discover that the flight isn’t bound for New York at all. Rather, they’re headed for Oslo. More precisely, they’re headed straight for the site of’s head office building. So begins a race against time to uncover the true identity of the mysterious Alligator and the binds that tie them all together as targets of the madman and find a way to get off the plane before the will to survive, and the will of their captor, turns them on each other.

Packed full of excellent performances and some solid, assured direction, Panic Button is a thriller with its finger firmly on the pulse of this technological generation. The script is tight and focused (despite sporting multiple writing credits), and the first act in particular is riveting stuff, brimming with mystery and tension. The main characters are well drawn and believable, with the game’s first round providing what is easily the best section of the film as lies are instantly challenged and outward personas forcibly stripped. It’s a masterful inversion of the social positions concerning online and real life self-presentation – the internals of the plane turned chat-room versus the reality of the network profile. It’s also guaranteed to have you simultaneously engrossed and contemplating just how much information about your own life, job, family, activities and attitudes could be pieced together by determined individuals with even just a little internet investigation; information that may be particularly sensitive when used in a certain context, but posted absent-mindedly through absorption into online life.

As the story continues, though, the intensely smart nature of Panic Button gives way to a more functional close-quarters actioner sporting some particularly pedestrian motivations for the protagonist to be doing what he’s doing. A couple of the twists work well in context, but they’ve all been seen before – not least one of which in a sequel to Saw, a film that Panic Button will invariably be compared to. Saw on a Plane this is not, however, for the main part eschewing violence and bloodshed in exchange for an atmosphere of brooding menace and skilfully played tension. The undercooked climax and frankly preposterous final scene prove difficult to forgive, but the efforts of a great cast, and some genuine talent behind the camera, manage to keep Panic Button elevated above average. With a slightly different direction in the second half, it likely could have been so much more; yet, as it stands, it is still well worth your time.

3 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review



Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

Directed by Colin Bemis

Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic


Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)



We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View



Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento

Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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