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  • Gareth Crook

Blank (2022) - 6/10

This looks right up my street, a suspenseful sci-fi drama. Claire Rivers (Rachel Shelley) is an awarding winning fiction writer that’s struggling with her next book. With her agent on her back and post it notes strewn about her office, she needs help. That doesn’t sound very sci-fi does it, but the little futuristic details put us in a world slightly beyond our own. Screens projected on walls, QR codes on car number plates and… The Retreat, a country pad getaway run entirely by AI. It’s a simple premise, writers need quiet, people make noise, remove people, problem solved. Something is going to go wrong though, delivering a film that’s part Gattaca in its styling (it’s very stylish), part Misery, with a dose of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. Like Misery, Claire has an enthusiastic helper. Rita (Heida Reed) looks human, but is a bit cold, a bit… repressed. Like the 1950s housewife on which she’s modelled, she’s sort of blank. So is Claire’s page, the writers block not solved by the isolation. There’s something she’s suppressing, something dark. It’s beautifully shot, stark where it needs to be. Teasing its audience as the tension gently ramps up. Claire is damaged. Drinking every night, repenting with a morning run, flirting with Henry (Wayne Brady) a holographic assistant that would seem superfluous with Rita around, but he’s much more engaging. At least he is until a glitch resets everything, leaving Claire trapped, with seemingly only one way out. Some cynics may question its originality, but they’d be only denying themselves the chance to get lost in a really fun film. One that takes all its component parts and assembles them masterfully. Keeping you on your toes, whist never pushing too far. With just three characters, this could struggle, but dream like flashbacks take us to another world, filling in the gaps and helping us understand Claire, as her memories and situation blur in a nightmarish battle for survival.



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