‘Blackout’ Offers Low-Rent Werewolf Shocks

Tortured artist howls at the moon while we pine for the film to end

Director Larry Fessenden pumped new life into Frankenstein’s monster with 2019’s “Depraved.”

The genre veteran’s attempt to reimagine the werewolf genre, alas, deserves a swift silver bullet.

“Blackout” is sluggish from start to finish and marinates in stale progressive talking points. The creature itself is the ultimate let down. When a horror film’s budget is this low, you’re better off showing less, not more.

That worked for Steven Spielberg and the malfunctioning robot shark in “Jaws,” no?

Not here. It’s hardly the only flaw in this bargain-basement dud.

Blackout - Official Movie Trailer (2024)

A nasty prologue hearkens back to ‘80s slasher films, from the gratuitous nudity to its practical effects. No movie should peak in the first five minutes.

We soon meet Charley (Alex Hurt, son of the late William Hurt), a haunted artist looking for a fresh start.

Or is it an ending?

He’s eager to leave his small town of Talbot Falls but something keeps getting in the way. Whenever the moon is full he turns into a werewolf and everything he tried to achieve during the day falls apart.

Charley is obsessed with a local developer (Marshall Bell) eager to build a resort sure to hurt the region’s ecosystem. How bold to make the villain a rich developer who only sees dollar signs!

Our hairy hero also tries to shield a Mexican immigrant from locals who insist the “newcomer” is responsible for a recent murder.

If you sense writer/director Fessenden has a progressive axe to grind, give yourself a prize.


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This isn’t the first socially-conscious horror film, but it might be the worst example in recent memory. The screenplay is cartoonishly blunt and, much worse, repetitive. It’s one thing to lay out a story’s hard-Left thesis. It’s another to double and triple down on them.

Need more progressive tropes? How about a black character’s fear of being shot by the police? Or the yokels clad in camouflage who won’t leave the local immigrants alone?

The only thing missing? The red MAGA hats.

Even Joy Reid might cringe at how crudely “Blackout” wallows in progressive talking points.

Fessenden telegraphs his intentions early on, from letting his camera linger on election-year signage to Charley’s near-constant lectures. He might be the least appealing wolf in modern cinema.

The film uses images of the character’s late father – photographs of a younger William Hurt – to suggest their tortured relationship. To say it’s a distraction is beyond obvious, especially since Hurt died not long ago.

Plus, the elder Hurt would never headline a movie as junky as this.

The screenplay is alternately hammy and on-the-nose, and for some reason everyone uses Charley’s name again, and again, in conversation. “Blackout” is a better drinking game than a movie – take a shot every time a supporting character utters the name, “Charley.”

Advise a physician before attempting said game.

The film’s title refers to Charley’s drinking habits, and using lycanthropy as a metaphor for alcohol abuse isn’t bad. Nor is how Charley’s do-gooder spirit conflicts with his obvious flaw.

He knows he turns into a killer when the moon is full but rarely takes measures to protect the innocent from his transformation.

Fessenden can’t do much with either ripe element. Instead, he focuses on showcasing the film’s tiny budget.

We see way too much of the wolf-life Charley, from his sub-standard makeup to the way Hurt fails to inject his actions with anything wolf-like. Scenes of the transformed Charley running through the woods are embarrassing.

It’s no surprise “Blackout” features a literal lecture in the third act against the evil white people trying to punish Mexican immigrants. It’s a dud, but so is every element of “Blackout,” from glaring plot holes to our hero’s cursed romance with an old flame (Addison Timlin).

Nothing works. Nothing.

Indie horror films routinely outkick the coverage, delivering some of the genre’s best thrills. “Blackout” lives down to its budget.

HiT or Miss: “Blackout” is a genre bomb of the highest order.


  1. This doesn’t sound very good, but I checked out your reference to the Frankenstein-ish “Depraved” which I’ll check out.

    (Btw, for Frankenstein fans, I suggest the underrated B movie “The Prometheus Project (2010) aka “Frankenstein Syndrome” which is a modern take involving a group of scientists illegally experimenting on tissue regeneration. Has a very unique twist at the end.)

    Good movie forks of the Universal monsters are so hard to come by, such a shame.

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