Panic Button (UK DVD)
Directed by Chris Crow
Distributed by Cine-Britannia
There’s quite the collection of stars emblazoned across the cover of Panic Button, which could easily lead one to believe this to be one hell of a sleeper hit. Being a UK resident, it's always great to see home-grown talent make a splash in this genre – so it's with a heavy heart that I report this seems to be another victim of the hype machine. How this one has secured such glowing reviews from such reputable sources is way beyond my understanding. Sure, the concept is timely and leads to some interesting moments, but there is a total lack of energy to the proceedings, such that the entire affair deflates quickly after take-off.
Jo, a young single mother, has won a competition on social networking site All2Gether.com – the movie's Facebook surrogate – and joins fellow social networkers Max, Gwen and Dave on an expenses paid, first-class flight to New York aboard a private jet. Once on board, they are greeted by a voice on the inflight movie screens represented by a cartoon alligator. They are told that during their flight they will have the chance to win some life changing prizes -- all they have to do is follow the rules of the game to the letter. After agreeing and hastily ignoring the terms and conditions, they begin with a series of questions that quickly take a turn for the sinister as they are asked things that reveal some of their most private online sessions. It soon proves too much for some of the group, but they will rapidly discover that failure to carry out the game will result in deadly consequences. Guess they should have read those terms and conditions...
Buried among all the mishaps on display here is a good idea so it's a shame that there's so much wrong - most notably the horrendous performances. When you set a story in such small confines for the majority of the film, you place focus on the performances – not the best idea when relying on this particular cast to pull you into the situation. When the shit hits the fan, the actors’ performances are so lacking it’s really hard to buy into what’s unfolding on screen. When the cast should be panicking, all this bunch can muster is a slight whimper. The entirety of the blame should not rest with them, though -- the direction is so lifeless and flat it manages to make an interesting situation way more boring than it should be. There's no real sense of impending dread at all, and at times you'll be very aware that this is a set and not on board a moving plane.
Compared to many more successful horror flicks sweeping the modern market, Panic Button is sadly tame and toothless. If it's a powerfully unforgettable British horror you're looking for, then you won’t find it here, and when you have films like this year's excellent Kill List, it’s useless to waste time on affairs such as this. If the dangers of online socialising are what really get you nervous, then this may be worth a gander – but a very quick gander at that.
At least there's a slew of nifty extras on show here to make up a decent package for those who do chose to pick this up with the obligatory making-of, trailers, teasers and deleted scenes along with a few amusing bloopers. Blu-ray owners will be privy to an exclusive Panic Button documentary – nothing too noteworthy but worth a quick look all the same.
2 out of 5
3 out of 5