Written by Richard P. Serin
Blind is the story of Faye (played by Sarah French) a once successful actor struggling to come to terms with loss of eyesight following botched laser eye surgery. She feels hopeless and alone, no longer able to find work. Determined to help, her friend Sophia (played by Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2’s Caroline Williams) endeavours to set Faye up with their mute personal trainer, Luke, who also leads a support group they both attend. This romantic drama takes a sinister turn with the arrival of ‘Pretty Boy’, a masked stalker with a fetish for dolls faces and blind women.
It’s a striking, and at times, beautifully shot film. The juxtaposition between the shiny façade of well-to-do LA with the twisted darkness that lurks beneath is well executed and satisfying. It’s never scuzzy, but the contrast manages to be disturbing and effective.
The dramatic scenes of Blind have the glossy look and feel of a US soap-opera, and it’s a shame that the script often sounds like one too. It rarely feels natural and there is a level of exposition that’s at-best unnecessary and at-worst distracting. I often found myself being dragged right out of the film. Nevertheless, it’s not all that rare for independent horror movies to suffer from such problems, and they needn’t ruin the experience. Most horror fans are able to overlook things like clunky, on-the-nose, dialogue with ease, just so long as the horror makes up for it. A horror film that is either scary, fun, or a mixture of both can be forgiven most transgressions.
Blind is very creepy at times – one scene involving a reflection in a window is particularly effective – but I never found it scary. To its credit it doesn’t rely on jump scares and tries to disturb the viewer in more psychological ways instead. Sadly, without the script or the scares to justify how seriously it takes itself, it doesn’t pay off. As such, the odd jump scare wouldn’t have gone amiss, and some more graphic kills would have been welcome additions.
There’s a scene where Sophia argues passionately that visual impairment is not a disability, and it seems like Blind has its heart in the right place. However, given that none of the main actors share the impairments of the characters they portray, it’s difficult to work out if these apparent noble intentions are mere afterthoughts, or have just been poorly executed – I suspect it’s the latter. I’m not arguing that a visually impaired character has to be portrayed by a visually impaired actor (although there are reasonable arguments in favour of this), but I’d have liked to have seen it happen in this film, especially given the subject matter and the plight of its main protagonist. What could have been a timely critique of the treatment of disabled actors in Hollywood ends up being part of the problem. A film about a blind actor, unable to find work as a result, fails to hire a blind (or mute) actor for any of its lead roles. Moreover, the way it eventually focuses on the dangers of vanity instead felt like a misstep that verged on victim blaming.
Faye spends the entire film being portrayed as a victim, rendered emotionally and physically vulnerable by the loss of her sight. As a set-up I didn’t find this too problematic, it felt like an understandable reaction to losing one’s sight, however the absence of any character development to move her beyond this position felt shallow and exploitative. There are reasons to believe that this has been done deliberately, that there is scope for such development, although you’ll have to watch it yourself to find out why this might be the case.
Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Blind, even though there is a lot of horror making experience behind it. It has some good ideas and some creepy moments, but I didn’t find it fun or scary enough to overcome its shortcomings. There is a mystery throughout that kept me hooked, and I did find myself rooting for Faye, even if she was poorly served by the story and script. It has been reviewed more positively elsewhere and does seem to be finding an audience, but it didn’t do it for me.
Rating: 2 out of 5