Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to the team at Uncork’d Entertainment, along with Co-Writer/Director, Johnny Mitchell for allowing me early access to an online screener of his debut Horror/Thriller film “Blindsided”. Blindsided is a contained home invasion film that follows Sloan (Bea Santos), a recently blinded former college student who has been left alone for the weekend by her father. Joined by her two best friends Mika and Toby (played by Melinda Shankar and Erik Knudsen respectively) who are on a break, the groups chilled weekend is upended as Sloan and her friends are targeted by someone lurking in the shadows of the isolated house. The film also stars Atticus Mitchell (TV’s Killjoys), Paul Popowich (TV’s Hemlock Grove), and Carlyn Burchell.
Blindsided is a Canadian made film for which the isolated wintry location lends itself nicely to. DP, Mick Reynolds utilizes some very slick drone footage in the beginning, and there are a number of gentle camera movements with consistent framing – the kitchen table scene is one that comes to mind. The audio track is nice and clear too (chunks of ADR notwithstanding). By and large, the standard of acting was much higher than I anticipated, Knudsen being the cast member with arguably the most experience. Bea is well and truly believable as the young girl dealing with the difficulties of being blind, Melinda Shankar continues on from her good work in Netflix’s “Slasher” series, and Knudsen supplies us with a few moments of good-natured comedy. That said, it’s really Jonathan Oliveira’s casting of Atticus Mitchell in the role of Tom, a psychology protege of Sloan’s father that ultimately serves as one of the only things anchoring the film. Not only does he really look the part, but he also brings good timing and some much-needed intensity to proceedings, most notably in a great conversational set piece with Sloan during the third act. Action is on the scarce side but there is an early kill that showcases some practical blood fx.
Some of the creative choices that were made on the technical front weren’t necessarily to my liking. For one, the approach to lighting is very minimal, so much so that you often can’t see a lot of what’s in the frame. Not to mention, the color grading is extremely washed out, and when you’re already in a climate as gloomy as this one, it doesn’t quite make for the best of visuals. Reynolds mostly handheld approach becomes a little one dimensional and there are some muffled sound issues during the in-car scenes between Sloan and her father. The score was also rather bland, something akin to a cheap made for TV movie. The film isn’t without its weak patches of dialogue and stale filler sequences either. I found the relationship between father and daughter to be lacking both substance and credibility, particularly when there are just 13 years in age difference separating Santos and Popowich. The biggest problem with Blindsided is that it’s simply far too predictable. I was able to spot the “extra layer” within the invasion aspect a mile out from its climactic third act, subsequently, any intended suspense is more or less canceled out. Tension isn’t necessarily everything if you’ve got some on-screen kills happening, but this one doesn’t.
Blindsided is a largely serviceable first outing from Writer/Director, Johnny Mitchell. It’s quite reminiscent of other films like “Enemy Within” and “Blind Fear”. Some of the cinematography works well, the audio is generally clean, and there are a couple of moments that involve some practical fx work. The performances are the strongest aspect, with Mitchell more than delivering in a memorable role that will hopefully garner him further attention. Unfortunately, the presentation lacks character, the music sits flat, and sizeable chunks of the discourse are quite forgettable. I think the end result is a fairly typical and tepid home invasion style flick, one that stretches its credibility with the casting of Paul and Bea as father and daughter. Others might find a little more in this Canadian venture than I could though. The film will be available on both DVD and Digital from the 13th of August, you can check out the trailer below!
My rating for “Blindsided” is 4.5/10