Updated: Oct 17, 2020
Reviewed as part of the virtual Frightfest in August, this nifty thriller will have you on the edge of your seat before taking you down some unexpected and horrific turns.
Back in the nineties, there was a wealth of psychological thrillers that revolved around obsession, infatuation, and stalking. Films such as Fatal Attraction and Single White Female gave us the colloquialism 'bunny boiler'. Therefore, I jumped at the chance to watch Blinders at Frightfest, a film that promised to subvert the 'obsessed lonely woman' trope.
Blinders follows tutor and aspiring drummer, Andy (Vincent Van Horn), as he relocates from Texas to Los Angeles following a messy break-up. Despite the positive posts about the move on Instagram under #freshstart, Andy is lonely and isolated. He heads out to a bar where he meets Sam (Christine Ko). The pair hit it off and grab a RYDE back to her place. The driver, Roger (Michael Lee Joplin), apparently takes a shine to Andy. After they ‘accidentally’ bump into each other, the pair strike up a friendship. All seems fine until Andy blows Roger off in favour of spending time with Sam.
In a film such as this, everything rests on the characterisation and casting. Blinders nails both elements.
Van Horn as Andy has a likeable everyman quality that draws the audience to him immediately. We are particularly rooting for him given his genuine approach to his relationship with Sam. Ko plays a recognisable yet independent girl next door who becomes Andy's confidant as well as love interest. Like Andy, she is also new in town.
Roger is just as lonely and isolated as Andy. At first we sympathise with Joplin's portrayal of this oddball loner, Roger simply doesn’t have the correct social skills to create healthy relationships. The connection between the two men makes it all the more awful as we watch Roger systematically destroy Andy’s life.
It is here where Blinders takes a modern approach to unsettle its audience. Roger is able to cleverly use the information he has about Andy in order to hijack his life. All it takes is partial information to obtain access to his apartment, a single email to destroy his reputation as a teacher. Of course, by the time the end credits roll, we come to realise how seemingly innocent social media posts could be used against us.
Although on the surface Blinders might sound formulaic, it manages to subvert expectations with a couple of sudden twists that turn everything on its head. There are subtle clues peppered throughout the film, but I was genuinely shocked at the turn the film took in the third act. This is only possible by having characters who are truly three-dimensional and all have something to hide. Grindhouse fans will particularly enjoy the final scenes, where an item you would find in bathroom gives the film its title.
A cautionary tale for a digital age, Blinders is a cunningly constructed thriller that will have you shut down your social media as you squirm in your seat.