As far as dumb horror film plots go, this ones a doozy, my god!
Admittedly, the genre as whole isn’t renowned for highbrow, deep thinking concepts, but still, ‘Black Box’ is expecting a bit much if they are hoping that I’m going to swallow what essentially distils down to a brain transplant as the big twist of this farcical horror.
The published synopsis: After losing his wife and memory in a car accident, a single father undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes him to question who he really is.
The film opens with the father, as he struggles to recover his memories following his accident. As he tries to settle into back into his life there are small inconsistencies which indicate that not all is quite as it seems to be. The devils in the details here, and there are some really nice little subtitles early on which are a precursor of things to come; the films serious tone and some strong acting from Mamoudou Athie (who plays Nolan, the aforementioned father) helps to build up a decent atmosphere of intrigue.
The films tone, minimalist script and bland colour palette does a really good job of conveying the confusion of the amnesiac, and even though there was a few Blumhouse signature jump scares which in this case missed their mark, the films overall pitch was doing a stand up job; that is until the foundation of what would be the films hopeful trump card was slapped on the table with all the subtly of a wet towel whip to the ass.
Seeking a quicker remedy, Nolan visits a clinic boasting experimental memory treatment by way of a VR memory implants; and for me, this is where the problem starts.
Upon visiting the clinic, he gets to take a VR trip into his own mind, hoping to recover memories as he goes. Things start off ok, but then they take a sinister turn for the worse. He starts to see people he doesn’t seem to know, visits personal scenes which don’t tally up with photographs of what should have been the same events, and there is a creepy entity harassing him the deeper he delves into his memories…
Well, after all the babble of computerising and downloading memories, I’m sure, like me, you can work it out for yourself – well-ahead of when the movie hopes to drop the curtain too…
I’ve read a good number of reviews praising the movies concept, but for me, it just didn’t work; and it wasn’t in anyway a revelation as far as the plot trajectory was concerned. In addition, it was far too big of a leap in terms feasibility, considering the emotional and real-world pitch that the rest of the movie’s drama urged me to invest in.
As my overall score should indicate the film isn’t a complete washout, even following the films 3rd act reveal, there’s still some story yet to reach a conclusion and some scenes of redemption and justice to route for; and as I’ve already said, the production values are decent enough to carry the film across the line.
Overall, I wasn’t desperately impressed at the scares, and whilst I invested in the drama, the story just didn’t do enough for me to look past the goofy B-movie concept; no matter how strong the delivery. This looked promising, and I hope to see all involved in other projects moving forwards, but no cigar today.