BLACKOUT Review: More Than a Monster Movie

Larry Fessenden's indie horror picture stars Alex Hurt, Addison Timlin, and Motell Gyn Foster.

Editor, U.S. ; Dallas, Texas (@HatefulJosh)
BLACKOUT Review: More Than a Monster Movie

Indie horror icon Larry Fessenden is back in the director’s chair with Blackout, a film about the pain of addition and becoming something you don’t want to be. Having tackled vampires in 1995’s Habit and Frankenstein’s monster in 2019’s Depraved, Fessenden finally has his werewolf movie in the solid creature feature Blackout.

Opening with a classic stalking sequence following a pair of adventurous lovers in a field, Blackout introduces us to the werewolf terror immediately as the monster tears the canoodlers to shreds before the opening credits roll. We quickly move on to meet Charley Bartlett (Alex Hurt), the above-mentioned monster, only he’s currently in human form and obviously in search of absolution for his many sins. He’s determined to not only set things right with an old flame (Addison Timlin as Sharon), but also to expose the dirty business dealings of local developer Hammond, who just happens to be Sharon’s father.

When the beast within Bartlett begins its reign of terror, the police are dumbfounded, but Hammond insists he has knowledge that the killings are the work of a local Latino laborer named Luis. Though he has no real evidence, he’s riled the town folk enough that they are gathering a posse to bring him to justice. The local sheriff wants nothing to do with it, but that train may leave the station whether he likes it or not.

Meanwhile, Bartlett’s attempts to made nice with Sharon, who has wisely moved on, seem to be falling on deaf ears. But this is just one of many tasks that Charley aims to accomplish before he takes care of the werewolf problem himself. It's a bucket list of sorts, though there will definitely be a lot of civilians kicking the proverbial bucket before Charley’s massacre is over.

Like a lot of Fessenden’s work, Blackout uses the werewolf mythology to tell a very human story. Charley is a flawed man, but one who has mostly overcome a serious drinking problem to acknowledge those flaws and who wants to make amends. The werewolf thing puts a ticking clock on his atonement schedule, pushing him to leave this world having done some good before he does too much more bad.

Hurt lives this role to his core, and with a solid supporting cast behind him, Blackout works incredibly well in fleshing out the character and making this into more than a simple monster movie. Being a Fessenden film, there is a lot of talking, it’s not a bad thing, but it does cause the film to stretch out perhaps a bit longer than necessary. Most of the dialogue in helpful in building a very lived in world, though there are a few scattered moments where Fessenden throws in references to the classics of lycanthrope cinema that are just for funsies, but it’s not too distracting.

Balancing out the drama are some very gruesome kills scattered throughout the film. Blackout isn’t afraid of doling out the red stuff, and even more fun for monster movie fans is that we get plenty of good looks at FX artist Brian Spears’ wolf man. There isn’t a transformation scene flashy enough to rival An American Werewolf in London or The Howling, instead, Fessenden stays with the Lon Chaney, Jr. method of revealing the monster in phases, which aligns with the film’s obvious love of the original 1941 classic.

Fessenden fans (Fan-ssendens? Fessen-fans?) will delight in the filmmaker’s gory take on yet another of the classic monster tales. Blackout, as they say, does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes a story horror fans know well and puts it through a modern lens with a writer who as concerned with the human elements of monstrosity than the mythological ones, but who has immense respect for both. There aren’t a lot of filmmakers out there who’ve been making horror as smart and emotionally gripping as Larry Fessenden over the last several decades, and Blackout shows us that he has no intention of slowing down.

Review originally published during Fantasia in July 2023. The film opens Wednesday, March 13, at IFC Center in New York City for a limited theatrical engagement, ahead of its nationwide release on digital platforms and VOD on April 12, via Dark Sky Films and Glass Eye Pix.


  • Sam Macaroni
  • Van B. Nguyen
  • Josh Duhamel
  • Abbie Cornish
  • Omar Chaparro
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
Addison TimlinAlex Hurtindependent horrorLarry FessendenwerewolfSam MacaroniVan B. NguyenJosh DuhamelAbbie CornishOmar ChaparroActionCrimeThriller

More about Blackout

Around the Internet