Panic Button (2011)
(18) Running time: 93 minutes
Director: Chris Crow
Writers: Frazer Lee, John Shackleton, Chris Crow, David Shilitoe
Starring: Scarlett Alice Johnson, Jack Gordon, Michael Jibson, Elen Rhys
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
I have been reading many positive reviews of Chris Crow’s low budget British twist on the Saw movies, so I went in to Panic Button expecting something at least half decent. Four strangers each win an all expenses paid trip to New York through a website called All2gethr.com and are taken to the airport in luxurious limousines. The strangers meet and one of the girls’ points at the plane as if she has never seen one before in her life and onboard they get. Drinks are ready and waiting as they get settled in to a rather posh private plane, although oddly enough the cockpit is locked and there is no stewardess to look after them. What do they get instead? A computer screen with a talking CGI alligator, that’s what! They are given some instructions and terms and conditions to each click agree to so that they can play some games to pass the time as they jet off to New York. Not one of the four ‘winners’ actually reads the terms and conditions, excited and acting like children, they all click agree and seal their doom!
Sadly the entire plot is given away in the first two minutes as one of the winners is whisked away in her limo; a masked man enters her house to take her baby hostage. We know that once on the plane things will eventually turn nasty, although they certainly o not turn nasty enough to warrant an 18 certificate! The questions put to the four strangers by the talking reptile are fun at first, but as we take off things get more personal. Since the competition winners have been asked to hand in their phones and other devices which would have come in handy, there is no escape and as the questions get more and more in depth, like bringing up porn websites and some of the group watching sick videos of torture online, it would appear the film is trying to be clever in its attack on how people use social networking sites and the internet in general. If the makers of this film were attempting to make a point, or scare you into being a bit more careful in what you are doing online, then they have badly missed their target. If the film is just generally trying to be and slightly original in its concept, it fails, and if the film is openly being Saw on a plane without the gratuitous violence, again is missed the boat. The four strangers are each set tasks by the alligator, and supposedly things are about to get interesting.
Panic Button just fails on pretty much every level, which begs the question just who the Hell has been reviewing this? The cast and crew? Hell, maybe the makers actually did this for real, and put four reviewers on a plane, took their family and friends hostage and told them to write a good review or else! There is zero tension, even as we witness the four strangers watch helplessly as their family and friends are killed on a computer screen right before their very eyes. The acting is atrocious and the talking alligator is laughable. Pretty much the entire film takes place on board the plane, and I usually enjoy films which use one set as a unique way of telling a story, but here it doesn’t work. I found myself desperate to get as far away from these four fools as possible, they are totally unlikeable and just don’t do anything to make the journey worthwhile. Blimey, even the promise of the ‘fit’ one being told to have sex with one of the strangers never happens. Promises, promises, all thrown out the window in a shocking, cheap, turbulent mess of a movie which thinks it is being clever but it is not. I really couldn’t get on with Panic Button at all, and the stupid, silly twist at the end just grated on my sense of patience and understanding. It wasn’t clever, it wasn’t good, it wasn’t even average.