First time writer/director Michael Henry clearly had a wonderful time crafting this story of a group of young people intent on murder. In an act of vengeance, the five of them burst into the house of Bernard (Damien de Montemas) and tie him up. It’s best I don’t reveal what takes place from then on, but suffice to say that lines will be crossed and loyalties will be tested as the group of friends discover just how far they’re willing to go in the name of revenge.

Blame is a beautifully made film. The cinematography is striking and includes some truly brilliant Steadicam shots that are executed with astounding precision.Blame The colour palette is ideal and Tamil Rogeon’s score is nicely understated, with great low end growls that perfectly complement some of the film’s more extreme moments.

The cast are in top form also. Sophie Lowe gets second billing, presumably because of her work on films such as Beautiful Kate, but her character of Natalie actually gets to do a lot less than her peers. It’s Kestie Morassi (as Cate) and the three guys that do most of the dramatic lifting. Mark Leonard Winter (as John) has possibly the world’s greatest Sad Face, and excels as the most morally-affected member of the group, whilst Nick (Simon Stone) and Anthony’s (Ashley Zukerman) roles are too similar, and could have quite easily been composited into one person. As the victim of the piece, de Montemas does well, though we don’t get quite the insight into his character that I would have liked.

The main problem with Blame would be the tentative tone of the narrative. I was unsure if this film was intending to be a vigilante flick in the Straw Dogs/The Last House on the Left vein or a thriller that played with notions of victim and perpetrator, à la Hard Candy. It doesn’t quite succeed as either. Revelations uncovered along they way are less powerful as a consequence, and whilst they were never confusing, I was unsure of their significance to the big picture.

It’s difficult to elucidate any further on the issues I had with the film without giving anything away (something I’d never do!). Blame is a competent thriller, though the brilliant Saul Bass-inspired poster suggested a Hitchcockian atmosphere that wasn’t really present. First off, Hitchcock would have invested more in his setting. In Blame, we never have a sense of the layout of Bernard’s house, and whilst it has received some great set dressing, the location itself didn’t ooze character like I would have hoped. What the film needed was the isolation of the Bates Motel or the dreamlike suburbia featured in Shadow of a Doubt, or even the cool, emotionless interior of Jeff’s apartment in Hard Candy; instead we have a pretty yet rather functionless location. Secondly, I didn’t feel that the characters were suitably opposed. In a film like this I would have expected some more starkly rendered archetypes. Instead we have a group of people that are all pretty similar, yet spend a lot of time on each other’s nerves.

It may be that I miss the late 80s/early 90s fad for thrillers, but Blame left me wanting. I enjoyed the film but missed certain genre trappings that I felt would have made the narrative more compelling.

Rating: 3 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 15th June 2011
Hoopla Factor: 3 stars

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