Writer and director Larry Fessenden has been exploring his take on the Universal monsters for decades. In 1995, he released Habit; a modern vampire tale. With 2019’s The Depraved, the filmmaker also delivered a contemporary take on the Frankenstein story. Now, Fessenden releases a one-of-a-kind werewolf story with Blackout.

Charley (Alex Hurt) is an alcoholic and a painter. His father passed recently and he’s been living in a motel for the past month. He had also been in a serious relationship with Sharon (Addison Timlin) until they had a falling out.

As most sees Charley’s month-long disappearance as a way for him to privately grieve, the reality of the situation is that he is a werewolf. Bodies have been piling up and, while he doesn’t typically remember anything from his animalistic outings, he always wakes up covered in blood and experiences flashes of his victims.

Rigo Garay stars in Larry Fessenden’s Blackout. Image courtesy of Glass Eye Pix.

Rather than either turn himself in to the authorities or spend the rest of his life in a lab, Charley enlists the help of his friend Earl (Motell Gyn Foster) to melt down some silver forks and create an arsenal of silver bullets that will hopefully put his unwanted onslaught to an immediate end.

The werewolf aspect of Blackout is presented as an actual curse that causes Charley to suffer. He doesn’t enjoy neither killing people nor eating them and knows he has to be stopped. Charley lives in the small, rural town of Talbot Falls, which is surrounded by forests and wildlife. The small town setting results in everyone knowing each other, which sees Charley bouncing from person to person throughout the film for meetups, a ride down the road, or just casual hang outs. Blackout feels like a road trip movie that technically doesn’t go anywhere because of it except Charley can never get far enough away from potential victims.

The opening of the film features a young couple having sex in the middle of the forest; a rarity in modern horror movies. The sequence is done from the perspective of the werewolf as he slowly creeps up on the couple before slaughtering the man mid coitus. What he does with the nude woman isn’t revealed until later, but the gruesome imagery is some of the strongest Blackout has to offer.

Fessenden was inspired by artist Mike Ploog and Werewolf by Night as well as Lon Chaney and The Monster Squad for the look of the werewolf in Blackout. He wanted less of a snout (like in An American Werewolf in London and Dog Soldiers) and more of a flat-face. Alex Hurt has a lean yet muscular frame in the film and he doesn’t lose his clothes during transformations, which is an interesting choice.

Addison Timlin stars in Larry Fessenden’s Blackout. Image courtesy of Glass Eye Pix.

Will Bates’ score also adds an incredible layer of depth to the film that somehow resembles wind blowing through trees in the middle of a forest. Filled with strings, bebop cords, and wind instruments, Bates’ score often sounds like deflating violins and clarinets as if they’re running out of steam.

Alex Hurt’s performance, as well as how his situation is revealed, is what makes Blackout feel slightly different to similar werewolf or horror films. His vices as well as his father’s death could easily explain his absence in the public eye. In Charley’s mind, there isn’t an option in which he can be cured. This is it for him and he has to be stopped before anyone else gets hurt.

Blackout is a low budget film that is capable of hiding a lack of high production values. The performances are extremely solid all around. It sounds like the film operated on a skeleton crew unless it was during the bigger sequences. This allows the makeup effects, the kills, and anything relating to the werewolf of the film to standout because it feels like what little money the film had was invested into shots that truly counted.

Alex Hurt stars in Larry Fessenden’s Blackout. Image courtesy of Glass Eye Pix.

Blackout doesn’t reinvent the horror genre or offer anything groundbreaking, but it is a competent werewolf film that puts meaning behind the bloodbath.

Every character in this town plays a part in the overall story of the film and that isn’t something you see very often in low budget horror. Larry Fessenden has crafted a psychological beast of a monster movie.

NEXT: Fantasia Film Festival 2023 ‘#Manhole’ Review – Simplicity Blossoms Into Full Blown Horror

Fantasia Film Festival 2023 'Blackout' Review - Curse Of The Lone Wolf
  • A low budget film that’s financially smart with its extremely solid practical effects.
  • Alex Hurt.
  • The afflicted approach to the werewolf concept.
  • You’re left craving more werewolf sequences.
7.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)
  • About The Author