LUMI Reviews: BFF Double Blind
16 November 2023
Conor McCusker reviews Double Blind for our second review from the Belfast Film Festival at QFT.
I was pleasantly surprised walking out of a screening of Double Blind; Irish horror films have generally never really been up to much in terms of their quality or memorability despite the increased appetite for Irish Horror in recent years. However, Double Blind was an entertaining and well-performed addition to the Irish-Horror landscape. Usually, Ireland is depicted in the genre almost as a character itself, detracting from much of the necessary elements that make a successful horror film. It is really refreshing to see a new horror taking place in Ireland that instead serves our country as a backdrop, allowing for a more nuanced story, clear of our history or politics, able to present a focused and successful narrative with an underlying scathing critique of Big Pharma. I wholeheartedly enjoyed this film. Reminiscent of campy genre films from the 80s, this film evokes terror without ever giving you a ‘big bad’ to fear. Rather the emphasis is to be afraid of individuals with their backs forced up against the wall by the threat of big corporations, and the ultimate control they have over them.
Duffy brings us a horrific insight into how horribly wrong pharmaceutical human trials can go. The film explores ideas of corporate greed and power, the vulnerability of people that these large companies feed off and how broken people are often forgotten about by society and used as data. Claire (Millie Brady) provides a captivating performance as a struggling daughter, surviving on her own and in need of some quick cash to get on her feet. As the title would suggest, the trial is a double-blind test, meaning the participants and the researchers have no idea what they are testing or looking for in terms of results.
As the trial progresses and the parameters of the research changes, the monetary reward is increased should they continue the test until the end, despite the alarming side effect of extreme insomnia. The testing facility enters an automated 24-hour lockdown, cutting the group of test subjects off from the outside world. They are now challenged to stay awake and, survive the lockdown or find a way out. I loved the sense of urgency that the looming threat of exhaustion brings, a completely human instinct that is all too easy to succumb. As the carnage begins to unfold, we are given great performances by a charismatic cast, including Diarmuid Noyes as Ray who really pulls the group together and shows great versatility in the role being both hilarious and disconcertingly monstrous at times.
All around this made for an entertainingly gory and experimental Horror/Thriller romp that had genuine heartfelt moments and dealt sensitively with the traumatic topics mixed throughout. The score was tremendously composed and kept the tension high at all times. The claustrophobic nature of the film is exacerbated by the score allowing for extra depth of impact to the pent-up feelings of the characters going stir crazy as they delved deeper into the insomnia. I am excited to see what Duffy’s next feature will be.