Opening with a bang, quite literally, horror auteur Larry Fessenden gives Fantasia 2023 audiences the premiere of his latest film, BLACKOUT. With previous titles like Depraved and Habit under his belt, it’s clear he is a classic monster movie fan. His complex modern-day versions give you the shivers and make you think. BLACKOUT is yet another perfect chapter in what I suspect to be a long line of Fessenden cult classics.
The ensemble cast is enormous. Joe Swanberg, Jeremy Holms, and Motell Gyn Foster add to the validity of Fessenden’s horror community building. Barbara Crampton, horror legend extraordinaire and a woman who appears in more movies than I thought humanly possible, plays Charley’s family lawyer with a touch of cougar for extra hotness. Rigo Garay brings relaxed authenticity to Miguel. His chemistry with Alex Hurt is electric.
Joseph Castillo-Midyett and Ella Rae Peck are a great team as the local cops. Their scenes together are a welcome break. Marshall Bell plays Hammond as the wealthy town villain with the precise amount of elitist disdain we need. Alex Hurt plays Charley with a passion and relentless do-gooder attitude despite his surmounting inner turmoil. His physical work is magnificent. He has a strangely calming presence, even through his sullen outlook. I could watch him all day.
The second half takes several tonal shifts, but you’re already into the narrative. Fessenden injects family legacy, environmental and racial politics into the narrative organically. Small town and small-mindedness read universal, never forced. We even get a subtle glimpse of MAGA idiocy. One of the most intriguing aspects is the film’s overall look. It could have been made in the same year as An American Werewolf in London, down to the ominous era soundtrack. The special FX makeup progression also possesses a timeless monster movie feel. Beautifully painted animation illustrates Charley’s physical and innermost turmoil.
Part nostalgia and part modern-day commentary, Fantasia 2023 gets Fessenden at his best with BLACKOUT.
World Premiere Screening
Thursday, July 20th @9:45PM – Salle J.A. de Sève
Public Screening #2
Thursday, July 27th @11:30AM – Salle J.A. de Sève
Writer/Director: Larry Fessenden
Producers: Larry Fessenden, James Felix McKenney and Chris Ingvordsen
Cast: Alex Hurt, Addison Timlin, Motell Gyn Foster, Joseph Castillo-Midyett, John Speredakos, Michael Buscemi, Joe Swanberg, Barbara Crampton, James Le Gros, and Marshall Bell.
103 MIN / 2023 / USA / ENGLISH / HORROR