It strikes as somewhat of a special occasion when the UK pulls off a tense and compelling thriller. It’s a darn right misnomer to include these terms on a low budget project but there is always the possibility of exceptions.
Panic Button is psychologically intimate – concerned with emotional torture that leads to the physical like so many of its type post-Saw. Is it a hit or a miss though? Is it tense? Does it compel?
Panic Button pits four unsuspecting reprobates against a maniacal controller and his sinister game. Led to believe that they are on an all expenses paid flight to New York, they soon find out that that couldn’t be further from the truth as the man known as “Alligator” utilises the power of social networking to cause the passengers to self destruct. Soon, the game tortures and forces Jo, Max, Gwen and Dave into completing tasks they never knew they were capable of or risk deadly forfeits.
First of all, as a film with a small amount of fiscal potency, it was a very interesting concept executed – the maniacal puppeteer, hell-bent on revenge, uses all his wits and stalker tricks to exact possibly the easiest and most untraceable methods of harassment via the medium of social networking. Instantly, a considerable amount of people will be compelled by the elaborate scheme as so many of us identify with social networking. How many of us are on Twitter or Facebook? How long is a piece of string in a sting factory? We daren’t offer a deduction but we can presume that it’s pretty damn long… And a whole lot of people.
But we never give it any thought that the information we release into the veritable wilderness that is the World Wide Web is being recorded by our closest neighbour even. That’s exactly where this film flourishes as a thriller; it’s essentially the fear that tried and trusted premise that our neighbour is at the window watching everything that we believed secret and sacred to us. Panic Button merely revamps said premise and makes it as contemporary as it can possibly get.
It’s exciting and believable. As a film graduate with a penchant for detail, it’s my clinical nature to nitpick at a narrative till it’s less narrative and more pipe dream. Luckily, everything seemed very much grounded in reality here from the escalating suspense to the high tech chartered jet. Writers Frazer Lee and John Shackelton avoid shortcuts as much as possible, aided by some masterful direction by newcomer Chris Crow and a cast of little-known actors with an intelligent concept of their craft. The combination proves to me, for once, that a film needn’t be on a gargantuan budget to succeed as long as all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place nicely, and they do.
Panic Button is an enjoyable watch and one that I would advocate watching more than once. Its horror is piecemeal but if you can look past senseless violence and substitute it with an awesome story, then you are in for one hell of a thriller.
Fun from start to finish and you take a a very interesting moral overall: be careful what you reveal on the internet.