Four social networking contest winners are awarded an all expenses paid trip to New York via private jet, but once aboard the mysterious organiser begins a game that will expose all their secrets and pit them against each other at the expense of the safety of their friends and family.
Regular readers will no doubt be aware of my appreciation of the British based distribution company Cine Asia, who as well as being at the forefront of great Asian releases, also supply Fanboy Confidential with pre-release screeners so we can spread the word of up and coming Asian films to a readership who’ll dig it more than most.
Being British and an amateur filmmaker myself, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Cine Asia have devised a British release imprint called Cine Britannia to showcase the best of British independent genre films. Many British genre films never see release (and for the most part, funding) due to what Suits perceive as a general lack of interest, so it’s good to see a new home opening up for such fare.
Cine Britannia’s first release, Panic Button, couldn’t be more contemporary in both its approach to horror and its up to date context, unfortunately it starts on a bit of a down note, as all four key players meet up in an airport and reveal themselves to be relatively mediocre actors, with Michael Jibson taking the prize for the most annoying character AND the most seedy laugh of the year.
But once aboard the flight something quite miraculous happens, the story becomes intriguing and as the tension mounts the acting noticeably improves. Intriguing may even be too lighter word for the story’s change in direction, in fact it turns outright original, as a voice on the com system of the jet begins a game that has the characters admitting to the lies they tell about themselves on the Internet, the kind of videos they watch when they think that no one will find out and pulls up things they’ve written, out of context, painting them to be terrible people. It works really well, hitting home, if even in a slightly over the top way, as a similar thing done to the majority of Internet and social networking users would end in embarrassment at the very least.
As the games escalate, and it becomes clear that the voice has a grudge and sinister intensions, the film becomes more formulaic, wondering into the territory generally reserved for Saw sequels, though replacing the wanton gore with a more Hitchcockian thriller edge.
The eventual revelation comes out of the blue and so is a little dissatisfying, and could’ve been easily fixed with more foreshadowing, but it’s better than a vast number of horror releases this year and infinitely more satisfying than the grossly overrated Kill List.
People who are usually put off by a low budget needn’t worry, the visuals are actually quite good, the minimal requirements for locations making it possible for more money to be spent on a good looking jet interior, rather than the more cardboard looking stuff we will sometimes see on the Sy-Fi channel (is that how they’re spelling it these days?).
All in all a decent effort and a worthy first release for Cine Britannia; it has moments of brilliance, some cringe-worthiness and though it won’t be anyone’s favourite film of the year it certainly won’t be anyone’s worst. Worth a look.
B- grade – for originality
C grade – for story telling
C- grade – for acting
C grade – for visuals
Overall grade – C
Panic Button will be released on region 2 DVD and Blu-ray on November 7Th 2011 with no international release yet scheduled
Watch the trailer.