BLACKBURN

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

A forest fire, a rock slide, no gas, murderous Hillbillies, a creepy old mine and an old lunatic asylum. The kids of Blackburn really are not having a very good time of it, caught between a rock (slide) and several hard places. Visiting a small Alaskan town, five typically beautiful but bickering college kids find themselves on the wrong side of the locals and their geology. After a terrible CGI rock slide traps them in town (on the way to their cabin in the woods, ‘natch), they wind up taking shelter in a dilapidated old mine, chased down by the murderous monster that dwells in the shadows…

Blackburn lays out its cards early, opening with the brutal murder of the cop from Freddy vs Jason and his screaming wife. From there, it’s slasher movie business as usual, all stupid decisions and a lack of cellphone reception. By the time the awful Syfy-level CGI rock slide tumbles onto the screen, many will have given up already.

Bailing early, they won’t be missing too much. Blackburn is a typical backwoods slasher film in which each and every cliché and stereotype is well represented, from the underground mine setting (most notably Hills Have Eyes 2, from which it borrows a mildly half-assed tone) to the inevitable backwater gas station. The latter, at least, provides the film with a little variety; its twin sister station attendants giving Blackburn all of its laughs and originality, effortlessly stealing the show and all of the laughs therein.

As its sisters only occasionally feature in the story, so Blackburn is sporadically entertaining. It’s low-budget like a DTV Wrong Turn sequel (that’s all of them, then), from the action to the gloomy, uninteresting visuals. The presence of a female writer (relative newcomer Natasha Baron) ensures that it’s less grounded in sleaziness than some, but don’t expect rounded characters of either gender. Apart from the gas station sisters, who are awesome.

The film is, at least, so fast and loose with its clichés (it’s a film about a mine and a lunatic asylum) that the pace stays fast and the action relatively constant. Dingy and uninspired it may be, but it’s competently filmed and even the acting isn’t too shabby, given the typically low-rent, no-name cast (Ken Kirzinger aside). Once again, the gas station sisters steal the show.

An effective slasher, Blackburn doesn’t reinvent the wheel but has just enough bravura to keep it spinning nevertheless.

BLACKBURN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: LAURO CHARTAND /SCREENPLAY: NATASHA BARON / STARRING: SARAH LIND, ZACK PELADEAU, EMILE ULLERUP, CALUM WORTHY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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