The Blackout Experiments could be that “next big thing” for horror folks who avidly discuss the genre. Not only does it offer envelope-pushing originality, it also shows an underbelly that is generally out-of-bounds for a mainstream crowd. Some outsiders may find the doc’s humiliating and semi-exploitive nature to be too intense, but they won’t be able to take their eyes off the screen.
Rich Fox, an editor with experience on reality shows like Survivor and tell-all episodes from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, directs The Blackout Experiments with an open approach – a good idea for a documentary that handles an abundance of unpredictability. The film centres around New York City’s immersive experience Blackout where participants voluntarily sink into the depths of stripped-down trauma.
Movie goers are introduced to Blackout through the Los Angeles division also created by ambiguous founders Kris and Josh. It’s made clear immediately that Kris and Josh (who are hardly seen) won’t dissect Blackout for Fox’s film, but they welcome the filmmaker to document some behind-the-scenes glimpses and actual endurance tests. Fox follows a few players, and continues to follow them after their Blackout sessions when the game becomes more elaborate and addictive.
There’s nothing sexual about Blackout and The Blackout Experiments doesn’t suggest that either. Even though Blackout has its participates occasionally disrobe and one volunteer describes his second round with Blackout as uncomfortable S&M, there’s something much more psychological to the entire experience. Blackout offers sudden, extreme dosages of adrenaline. It tests your responses to danger and fear and because those are deep-seated trigger feelings that are rarely utilized, it gives the experience a different kind of high that can’t be captured through other methods of intoxication.
The Blackout Experiments doesn’t give information away easily, but the viewers are invested with the reactions and long-term effects to a point of realization. Rich Fox’s atmospheric filmmaking is also chilling and significant as we watch these people become a part of their own personal horror movie. The drone cinematography is also significant and creepy as it punctuates how these lurid obsessions can exist in ordinary places.
The Blackout Experiments is captivating from start to finish; entering different freaky sensations as suspicion swallows the audience like a shadow.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie