THE INCIDENT (October 6th)
YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...
Most audiences will know Writer/Director S. Craig Zahler from 2016's 'Bone Tomahawk', a nasty western horror that feels like a mash up between The Searchers and The Hills Have Eyes. Since then he's gone on to make another brutal neo-noir thriller called 'Dragged Across Concrete' which only adds to his reputation as someone that likes to operate in a world of ultraviolence. Back in 1995 he wrote another little horror film called 'The Incident' – however he had to wait 16 years for his screenplay to get made into a film. Truth be told, it has probably flown under the radar a bit for a lot of genre fans (myself included). That film was 'The Incident' (also known as Blackout Asylum).
Set in 1989, the film focuses on George, a disgruntled musician who works at an asylum for the criminally insane with two of his band mates. I guess you gotta make some money somehow hey? But the band are falling apart and their in fighting and bickering soon erupts in front of the inmates. George is encouraged to go off and get some rest but is awoken by one of his mates shortly afterwards with some bad news. The storm that is raging outside has killed the power in the building and because the exterior doors are electronically locked, they are all now stuck inside with several dozen highly dangerous inmates. George has already had suspicions that some of the inmates were plotting something the previous day – and his hunch proves correct. What follows is a fight for survival.
Like his other features, The Incident is a intriguing blend of character drama and savagery. Bone Tomahawk was an exceptionally gory film in places (if you've seen it, you know what scene I am referring to in particular) but it also spends a long time building up its characters and setting up the story and the setting so that when everything starts to go wrong we are fully invested in these characters. Bone Tomahawk is nearly an hour longer than The Incident but the latter still finds time to let us in on the world of the central protagonist (played by Rupert Evans). He paints a likeable, if troubled, character who is easy to root for and sympathise with. He also makes logical decisions, which is always going to get you on side.
Director Alexander Courtes also shoots the film with a real sense of atmosphere and suspense. There is a gritty realism to this film that's really quite admirable, almost reminiscent of Assault on Precinct 13. In fact there's a fair bit in here that's Carpenteresque. The claustrophobia and sense of tension is palpable at times – as it the general murkiness and sense of oppression. It all makes for an unsettling viewing experience for the last half of the film in particular. Courtes' main body of work is music commercial based and The Incident is the only feature that he's directed. It's odd because although the film is fundamentally flawed (I'll get to that) that's more down to the story than the direction and it's surprising that the movie didn't act as something of a calling card for his talents behind the camera.
Unfortunately it all kind of falls down at the end, which is a common theme amongst a lot of the films I've watched during this challenge. Dracula ended with a whimper, The House that Jack Built went too surrealistic, Astral just bottled it and here you just wind up confused and frustrated. After some though I think I can explain the ending, I just can't explain why anyone thought it was a satisfactory or logical ending to what came before it, which was generally a competent and moody little genre film. A disappointing end to a half-decent movie. Still worth checking out though...