Blackout // Overlook Film Festival Review: The People’s Werewolf

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As horror heads, we’re all familiar with Larry Fessenden’s work. He has endless credits as an actor, most recent favorites being Brooklyn 45 and Jakob’s Wife. He also does his fair share of writing and directing horror movies like Wendigo and Depraved. Fessenden has also taken his love of the genre to other mediums like video games. That’s right, y’all! He’s behind wildly popular titles like Until Dawn and The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan. So clearly, there was never a doubt that his werewolf movie, Blackout, would be a moment. However, in true Fessenden fashion, the film nods at what has come before it in this subgenre before tossing out the rulebook. It carves out a newer and more intriguing path that is a breath of fresh air.

Blackout follows a haunted painter who realizes that he’s the beast terrorizing his small community. Charley, who has a drinking problem but is usually the voice of reason in this town that seems planted firmly in a red state, now has to figure out how far he’s willing to go to protect others from his vicious secret.

Not Quite Your Dad’s Werewolf Tale

One of the things I love about Blackout is that it’s not the typical werewolf tale. We catch on early that Charley (played by Alex Hurt) is the culprit. Blackout isn’t interested in playing the usual game of Guess Who? before getting to the final battle. It prefers to force our liberal protagonist to walk the walk rather than talk the talk instead. Charley is the only person in this town who calls out the local wealthy racist for blaming the vicious attacks on an innocent Brown man. However, as tensions rise to the breaking point, it becomes evident that his allyship is also being tested. He can let this man take the fall and watch it drive the community further apart. Or he can end his own life and let people in on his gruesome secret. 

I love this thread because many people are loudly liberal and on the right side of history as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. How often do you open Twitter to see someone with BLM in their bio terrorizing Black people? How many people attend Pride events in June and then turn around and misgender or deadname their students, family, or friends? Charley’s sacrifice is way more extreme than what has ever been asked of white liberals, but it’s not hard to see it as a call to action. Words are meaningless if you are unwilling to show up to help the people you claim you support.

There’s A Lot To Sink Your Teeth Into

Blackout sets its sights on many topics aside from allyship. The title obviously refers to Charley’s drinking problem. However, it also doubles for his nocturnal adventures that he has a hard time remembering. There are just so many threads woven into the tapestry of this werewolf story. We also get a beautiful moment in a jail cell that one hundred percent feels aimed at capitalism and the other societal ills this country refuses to correct. I’m looking forward to this movie hitting streamers because the mirror it asks most of its audience to look into will inevitably lead to cries of “woke” from the demographic that needs the conversations this movie puts forward the most. However, the rest of us can celebrate another Larry Fessenden W in the win column. 

Blackout is available on VOD on April 12.