Blame - movie reviewIf there’s one thing Australians know how to do, it’s crime. Wait, that should have read, “if there’s one thing Australians know how to do on the big screen, it’s crime”. But this nation’s ability when it comes to cinematic criminality is a two-edged sword for small-scale thrillers like Blame: while crime isn’t a genre that actively scares audiences away (unlike, for example, Australian comedy), it does mean that audiences go in with a certain level of expectation.
For a while at least, it looks like these expectations are going to be met and then some: Blame begins with a music teacher (Damian de Montemas) finishing up work for the day and driving back to his home out in the bush, where he’s set upon by a group of masked (but oddly well-dressed) types who grab him and promptly poison him. Job done, they tidy up and head on their way.
It’s a set-up that poses a lot more questions than it answers, and in a way, whatever followed it was always going to be a bit of a let-down. So when the masks come off (revealing Kestie Morassi, Sophie Lowe, Simon Stone, Mark Leonard Winter and Ashley Zuckerman) and the backstory leading up to the crime is gradually revealed through the groups’ various arguments and demands, it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed at the slackening pace.
When the story sticks to the would-be killers dealing with external threats – let’s just say their scheme doesn’t quite go to plan, and even out in the bush people occasionally decide to just drop in on their neighbours – it works fine as a tight thriller. When the focus shifts to the conflicts between the group – let’s just say not everyone is fully on board with the murder scheme, and those that are have different (and occasionally annoying) motivations for wanting the teacher dead – it highlights some fairly uneven performances from some of the cast.
Usually when this sort of thing happens the blame can be shifted onto poor dialogue or bad writing. But here the story (mostly) works and the dialogue, while occasionally clunky, never wanders too far into the realm of the completely laughable. There are just a handful of scenes where a few cast members don’t seem quite up to what’s asked of them. Whoever’s to blame (sorry), it makes a few developments hard to take seriously and straight-out damages the film as a whole.
Still, this kind of film lives or dies by the twists and turns of its plot, and this one manages to deliver a (not entirely unexpected) development towards the end that keeps things ticking over right up until the final credits. There’s nothing going on here that you haven’t seen done before elsewhere and better, but there’s still enough here that’s fresh – right down to setting it in a peaceful rural setting on a nice sunny day – to make Blame more than just another half-baked stab at a thriller.
- Three stars
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