Panic Button 2011 is an enjoyable UK independent horror film that makes the most of its low budget, says GEMMA JOHNSON
TITLE: Panic Button
RELEASED: 27 August 2011 (Film4 FrightFest)
DIRECTOR: Chris Crow
CAST: Scarlett Alice Johnson, Michael Jibson, Jack Gordon, Elen Rhys, Joshua Richards, Millie Midwinter
Review of Panic Button 2011
Panic Room 2011 was a low budget film but don’t let that put you off, it is actually very good and very clever. The tension is palpable throughout with mind games that would make Jigsaw himself shed a tear of pride.
The horror and paranormal film genre can be overcrowded, and it can be difficult to stand out, but this film manages to tap into new fears in a modern society – be careful what you share.
Panic Button was released in 2011 and is directed by Chris Crow. It centres around four people who have won a prize courtesy of social media platform All2gethter – a free round trip to New York on a private jet. But these are not friends, they have never met before, and nothing is as it seems. (I feel like an evil laugh is needed here… Mwah ha ha ha)
Gwen, Jo, Max and Dave gather in the private terminal, meeting for the first time. As the champagne flows so do the introductions and the group begin to get to know each other, all is well and then they board the flight.
Now, if someone asks me to handover my mobile phone for seven hours I would gladly do so and would embrace the peace, ask my children to do that and it would be as though you were tearing off a limb – these were the different extremes of reactions from the four passengers when they were asked to do exactly that.
There is no safety briefing, no visible members of staff but plenty of booze so our passengers are not concerned – being a bit of a nervous flyer I was uncomfortable enough on their behalf. Seat Belts are buckled and off we go. On a long-haul flight, it is customary to have some form of inflight entertainment – seven hours is a long time. But this isn’t your typical in-flight movie, it is a game fronted by a strange speaking snake, a snake that knows more about each of the passengers than they do. A snake that quickly reveals that not everything is as it seems.
Each of the passengers has a difficult personal question to answer, failing to answer it correctly and the snake then embarks on further questions to dig deeper so that their personal secrets are revealed. Remember when I said the message was to be careful with what you share? The snake has access to all their personal social media accounts and is intent on airing dirty laundry.
But then things take a more sinister turn, we find out that the snake has amassed hostages, hostages that are important people to the passengers on the plane. The snake has leverage and is using it to its advantage. Each one is called into the bathroom – (side note, who knew that bathrooms on private planes were so big!) – where they are given a secret challenge that they must complete, fail to do so and their beloved hostage will be killed, and they will be forced to watch it via a video link.
Cue violence and mind games as each one tries to complete their challenge. The idea of violence on an aeroplane at 30,000 feet is terrifying to me, there is no escape, and it could get very dangerous very quickly.
We see our passengers, begin to drop one by one, then come several different plot twists within a short time frame.
We have a pilot, but he has also been blackmailed by the snake, they aren’t flying to New York they are going elsewhere, and the plane won’t be landing it will be crashing into the headquarters of the social media platform ‘All2gether’ – no one is getting out alive. Cue the panic minus the option of pressing a button to escape.
The mind games continue when Jo and Max discover bodies hidden in the plane, bodies of the loved ones who had been taken hostage – they were all already dead, this was just sporting fun for the snake. As I said, Jigsaw would adopt it as his prodigy.
But why? Who is the snake? Huge plot twist – the snake is the voice of the father of a young girl who took her own life and each of the passengers had some role to play in it. They had all been keyboard warriors and trolls – goading her on, accusing her of attention seeking and sharing the video of her in distress with their friends. Dad wanted revenge on them and on All2gether.
To help repent, Jo (the sole passenger remaining) decides she is going to crash the plane early, since she isn’t getting out alive anyway and thinks her daughter is already dead, so she opens the door of the aircraft and gets sucked out crashing the plane in the process.
Now are you ready for the final shocker…. Jo’s daughter, Sophie, is actually still alive and the man behind the snake has now taken her as his daughter to fill the gaping hole in his heart following his daughter taking her own life– very warped but for a brief second my motherly instinct snook through and I felt a millisecond of empathy.
This film really reinforces the concept of social media – anyone can find things out about you so easily and once you post something ‘out there’ it remains there forever. It does make you think. I was surprised to find out that many ‘big league’ reviewing sites have been very harsh with scores for this film and I think it is unfair. This needs to be viewed as the independent, low budget film that it is, in doing so you appreciate it so much more.
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