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AICN UK: Britgeek says PANIC BUTTON is the best British horror in years!

Published at: Aug. 15, 2011, 11:54 a.m. CST by AICNStaff

 

Film4 FrightFest, one of the world's best fantasy and horror film festivals, runs for a 12th year from the 25th to the 29th of this month at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, London, and it promises to be yet another five days filled with blood, guts and mayhem, fuelled by the most passionate of genre fans.

One of the finest aspects of FrightFest is its truly international flavour. Films from across the globe – features and shorts – grace the two screens on offer at the festival and warmly welcome guests who have travelled the world over to experience them. But it wouldn't quite be a British event without a few native films, and one in particular that I'm sure will be met with an enthusiastic response from the audience is PANIC BUTTON, a Welsh independent film directed by Chris Crow that will have its world premiere on the afternoon of Saturday, August 27.

I was fortunate enough to receive a screener from writer/producer David Shillitoe, and now, post-viewing, I am thrilled to be able to share my thoughts with you on what I feel is the best British horror in years. In keeping with one of the main objectives of AICN UK – to give exposure to films produced in the UK on an international platform – it is a great pleasure of mine to introduce  you to such a production.

 

Made for a modest £300,000, PANIC BUTTON explores the dark side of social networking in a way that makes CATFISH look like CATS & DOGS. Revolving around Facebook equivalent all2gethr.com, the film places four characters (two men and two women) on a luxury private plane under the pretence that, courtesy of the social networking website, they have won an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City. Forced to give up their mobile phones for the duration of the flight, they board the plane and, upon take-off, are quickly greeted by the face of a talking alligator on the television monitors, who introduces them to the in-flight entertainment: a game based on their internet habits. Eager to play with the mention of expensive prizes, the contestants agree to partake in the game, which is soon to become an unrelenting nightmare at 30,000 feet.

In each other's company, the alligator subjects the passengers to a series of questions sourced from their years using all2gethr.com, where every link they've ever clicked, message they've ever typed, purchase they've ever made, and video they've ever watched have been stored, many of which are about to come back to haunt them as the game takes a far more personal and twisted turn than they could ever have imagined.

SAW on a Learjet would be a fitting way to summarise PANIC BUTTON, but it packs much more of a punch than any of the sequels. It's conservative with its use of blood, instead delivering the shocks by raising the stakes of survival aboard the plane. As more and more information about the passengers is revealed by the alligator, the disturbing nature of the film is continually amped up. And it's not the improbable predicament that is the most unsettling part, but the specifics of the details that are shared of what the characters have looked at on the web. The things that reveal a certain amount of darkness in those who don't necessarily look particularly shady on the surface. Things that don't just pertain to four characters in a fictional feature-length movie, but most people in real life. This is what makes PANIC BUTTON so smart, multi-layered and brutally honest.

Well-paced and with a tight script, this is a film that is also greatly effective because of how fresh it feels. Only over the last couple of years have we seen horrors and thrillers inspired by the rise of social networking and YouTube. THE SOCIAL NETWORK told a very Hollywood interpretation of the story of Facebook's creation, the appalling CHAIN LETTER splattered gore all over a backdrop of chain e-mails with deadly consequences, and DEATH TUBE spliced webcam voyeurism and viral videos with graphic violence. The film-makers behind PANIC BUTTON have trodden fertile ground with this movie and absolutely succeeded in making a gripping modern horror movie that is very much a product of our times. Just excellent.

 

So, who's coming to FrightFest?

 

Britgeek

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Readers Talkback

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  • Aug. 15, 2011, noon CST

    Don't Panic

    by donkey_lasher

    Mr Mainwaring!

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:07 p.m. CST

    too bad it's not the 'best American horror in years'

    by Titus05

    saying it's the best British horror isn't saying much as I can't name any good British horror movies

  • Zero hyperbole used. C.L. SUCKED.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:15 p.m. CST

    No good British horror movies?

    by Adam Stephen Kelly

    DOG SOLDIERS, THE WICKER MAN, DON'T LOOK NOW, THE HAUNTING, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, THE ABOMINDABLE DR. PHIBES, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, CITY OF THE DEAD, PEEPING TOM... the list goes on and on.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:20 p.m. CST

    thief of hearts

    by fred

    Remember that movie where a burgler stole a woman's diary and used it to seduce her? At the time it was a major invasion of privacy, but who needs a diary today? Everything you'd need to know about a person is right there for you on Facebook.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:27 p.m. CST

    Britgeekaicn

    by MrD

    Don't forget the Descent, the Cottage, Severance, Eden Lake, 28 Days/Weeks Later, Attack the Block...

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Britgeekaicn

    by Optimus Primal

    I like how only one of the movies you listed was made in the past 30 years. The UK horror scene has been dead for a while now. Naming a bunch of movies from when it was alive doesn't disprove that.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:38 p.m. CST

    Agreed Britgeek

    by Longtime Lurker

    Although I assume you are talking about the ORIGINAL Haunting, yes? I also have a soft spot for Night of the Demon. (Curse of the Demon in the US, but a different cut.) Niall MacGinnis is superbly creepy in that. Also, it just oozes atmosphere. Saw it years and years ago and yet I still occasionally check my pockets for scraps of paper with runes. :) And where would the modern ghost story be without M.R. James?

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:38 p.m. CST

    No good brit horror?

    by Killdozers Evil Twin Brother

    The Children, Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, The Descent, Hellraiser, ehh...it's a pretty big list. This robot plane talking alligator movie looks terrible, however.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:40 p.m. CST

    Recent British horror movies...

    by Adam Stephen Kelly

    EDEN LAKE, THE DESCENT, 28 DAYS LATER, EXHIBIT A...

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:41 p.m. CST

    The BBC's 'The Woman In Black'

    by IWasInJuniorHighDickhead

    scariest thing i've ever seen.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST

    NIGHT OF THE DEMON

    by Adam Stephen Kelly

    is an excellent film!

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:04 p.m. CST

    optimus primal...

    by loafroaster

    Dog Soldiers, The Descent, The Cottage, 28 Days Later, Attack the Block, The Children, Shaun of the Dead, Eden Lake, Severence, Triangle, Colin, Shadow of the Vampire, Wake Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Ravenous, Event Horizon, Wilderness, Isolation, Let Me In, and so on...

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:06 p.m. CST

    Better than The Kill List?

    by melonman

    I doubt it.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Badly Photoshoped posters make me angry...

    by KEVIN_COSTNERS_RECYCLED_PISS

    You wouldn't like me when I'm angry... The film itself sounds ok.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:22 p.m. CST

    Brillant!

    by chris callow

    I had the pleasure of working on this film and was a pleasure to read you review. Thanks!

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:24 p.m. CST

    The revenge of Gator spyware!

    by durhay

  • seems, IMHO, to be a bit of a stretch. Yes, the production company was British/European (at the time), and it was filmed in the U.K... but the writer and director was American (John Landis), the producers were American, and two of the three major stars were American.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:28 p.m. CST

    Makes 'Catfish' look like 'Cats and Dogs'?

    by tonagan

    I don't think Catfish was trying to be a horror movie (although the dude's tramp stamp was creepy).

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:30 p.m. CST

    did they unfriend someone they shouldn't have?

    by fred

    revenge!

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:31 p.m. CST

    re: "The BBC's 'The Woman In Black'"

    by buggerbugger

    ...wasn't produced by the BBC. It was made by Granada Television and was broadcast on the BBC's main ratings 'competitor', ITV.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:35 p.m. CST

    CATFISH isn't horror, no...

    by Adam Stephen Kelly

    but it's renowed for being a disturbing film.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 1:35 p.m. CST

    Thanks Chris!

    by Adam Stephen Kelly

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 2:17 p.m. CST

    I imagine the writers went with PANIC BUTTON because...

    by Adam Stephen Kelly

    panic buttons are called panic buttons.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 2:31 p.m. CST

    by John

    this film is about people exactly like you cletus van damme - you should watch it

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 3:19 p.m. CST

    no good British films?????

    by CoolerKing72

    I'm Directing a British film this year and next called, 'Two by the Sea'. Great cast and the script is causing a buzz... Web site up in the next month or so.. Watch this space or say hello on FB as im David Lee Pickton.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 3:24 p.m. CST

    Dead Set

    by Stalkeye

    Although it was only a miniseries, damned if it didn'tl had more scares than your average Horror Films today. Bloody good stuff.

  • Fact (?)

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 3:52 p.m. CST

    stalkeye

    by DirkD13"

    You know what, you're right about Dead Set. I avoided it at first as it was set in the BB house but when I found out it was written by Charlie Brooker that was all I needed to give it a shot and I loved it.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 3:56 p.m. CST

    Bullshit... sorry, 'Wake Wood' was fecking excellent...

    by workshed

    ...the REAL Hammer comeback movie. Timothy Spall and Aidan Gillen were superb.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 4:21 p.m. CST

    sorry scratchmonkey

    by IWasInJuniorHighDickhead

    no idea re: tv channels. Assumed it was BBC cause it was good! ITV was abysmal, as I recall

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 4:23 p.m. CST

    Oh my, floating heads poster!

    by AlexDK

    My only weakness!

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 5:15 p.m. CST

    British horror pedigree

    by Mr Lucas

    Let's not forget that the great James Whale was British, as was Boris Karloff (which would make the original Frankenstein British according to tritium's criteria). Of course Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley (British) and Dracula by Bram Stoker (Irish, but Ireland was part of Great Britain at the time). Also, The Wolf Man was set in Wales (OK, I'm stretching it now :) )

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 5:40 p.m. CST

    I'm heading to Frightfest Saturday

    by Dolmes

    but I'm missing Panic Button for My Sucky Teen Romance.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 8:48 p.m. CST

    titus

    by Keith

    "saying it's the best British horror isn't saying much as I can't name any good British horror movies" Then you're an ignoramus.

  • Um, you can't? See how that turned out?

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Good, recent american horror films? From the top of my head....

    by AlexDK

    Hmmmm... I thought The Mist was pretty excellent. Splinter was decent. The remake of Let the Right One In was pretty good. I know Paranormal Activity isn't liked by many around here, but I found it decent. The Signal was uneven and flawed, but I loved it. Slither was good. 1408 is worth the mention, even if the movie lost me towards the end. Feast was awesome. Too bad the sequels were so... ugh. Geez, I hope SOME of these movies are american, or else it means I am becoming senile at the age of thirty.

  • Aug. 15, 2011, 10:19 p.m. CST

    Plant plant plant

    by otto maddox

    Its been a while but the plants are back

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 12:37 a.m. CST

    Alien

    by Keith

    ...was an excellent US-financed British horror movie. Discuss.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 1:32 a.m. CST

    American horror in the last 30

    by mrgray

    Silence of the Lambs Scream The 6th Sense The Ring (a remake, true, but significantly different from the original Japanese film) Se7en The Blair Witch Project American Psycho The Strangers Splice (possibly Canadian?) Trick 'R' Treat The Devil's Rejects The Last Exorcism Grace May Drag Me to Hell Teeth etc.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 2:11 a.m. CST

    Dead Man's Shoes

    by Jeffwode

    Some may argue it's not a horror film, but it's one of the best depictions of slasher revenge I can think of.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 2:59 a.m. CST

    A few ramblings for your consideration (more or less on topic)

    by Longtime Lurker

    So many American horror films are either truly wretched slasher/torture crap OR are remakes of better foreign films that it can be hard to make a proper list of excellent American horror films. Also, some sub-genres have been abused to such a degree that we tend to under rate the originals. For example, I did enjoy The Blair Witch Project, though I thought it was hyped to death and I think the "found footage" idea is just about tapped out. There is also the distinction between the sort of "man's inhumanity to man" horror and truly supernatural horror, or psychological terror vs. supernatural terror. In an earlier post, I mentioned Night of the Demon. It is rather well known that the director did not wish to show the demon, so as to leave the horror ambiguous, but the studio apparently intervened and required that a demon be shown. Of course, showing the demon sacrifices a certain ambiguity which would have been very intriguing, but then again showing it isn't all that bad. Others have remarked that the design of the demon is consistent with very early medieval woodcuts of demons, so there is a sort of provenance to it. When I watch the film I generally regard the supernatural elements as real. However, it is equally true that with just a few cuts the demon shots could be removed and one would still have a very effective and creepy film. At the end of the day, I suppose that for me, the best horror is that which is subtle, which requires me to interpret what has happened without any firm answers. This "creeps me out" with an additional fear......the fear that I might be wrong. :) I've never gotten over that one. :)

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 3:59 a.m. CST

    One more thing, if I may...

    by Longtime Lurker

    Apparently there is a 1980 film called Night of the Demon. That is NOT the film to which I refer. The film that I have been speaking of, is known in the States as "Curse of the Demon" as I remarked on in a previous post. Do see the British version, released in 1957, if you can. It truly is vastly superior to the American edit. There are scenes and character moments that make NO SENSE without the material in the British version. Fortunately there is a DVD that contains both versions that is readily available. The film is a loose but effective version of the short story "Casting the Runes" by M.R. James. I believe the original story is available at The Gutenberg Project, http://www.gutenberg.org/ for those who are interested. The source material is rather more ambiguous than the film. For those of you who may not be into ghost stories, Montague Rhodes James was a mediaeval scholar and provost of King's College, Cambridge (1905–1918) and of Eton College (1918–1936). I believe his area of study was biblical apocrypha. At Christmas he would invite certain of his students to a special occasion in which he would tell them ghost stories that he had written. He has become quite famous in the world of ghost stories and is, I suppose, the "Tolkien" of the modern English ghost story universe. If you are interested at all in that sort of thing, do give M.R. James a read, but take my advice. The proper atmosphere is key. Winter time is best. Also, one should have a steady fire in the hearth (good for casting shadows about the room) and a glass of wine or, better yet, strong whiskey with notes of peat (to call forth thoughts of foggy bogs and barrows. :)

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 4:51 a.m. CST

    RE: American Horror Movies from 30 years?

    by Stalkeye

    John Carpenter's The Thing? Hello?!?

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 5:24 a.m. CST

    re: 'Night of the Demon' 1980

    by buggerbugger

    That's the one where a bloke goes for a wee-wee in the bushes and gets his tinkle ripped off by Bigfoot. ...Yep, that's the only scene I remember from the whole film. I also have a vague recollection of Bigfoot ripping out some other bloke's intestines and then swinging them overhead like a lasso, but maybe that's from another film entirely.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 6:35 a.m. CST

    Good Horror is good, bad is bad

    by the_man_with_two_brains

    It makes no difference where it comes from, anyone looking for a good 'found footage' film look out for The Tunnel and let's not forget REC and REC2 and The Host, the World is a big place and has a lot to offer anyone who wants to say their corner does it better than anyone elses is an idiot. (BTW I live in the UK).

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 8:23 a.m. CST

    American horror in the last 30 @mrgray

    by PaperyWhiteBoy

    Half of those aren't real horrors and half of what are were crapshitballs

  • Truly well conceived, well-written and well-acted take on the Matheson-Romero school of post-apocalyptic survival horror. Loved it.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 2:28 p.m. CST

    Britgeek is uk harry knowles...only even more boring.

    by Arkhaminmate001

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 2:29 p.m. CST

    Night of the Demon

    by Keith

    Drag Me To Hell was a reworking of it.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Other good US horror movies from the last three decades.

    by Keith

    I was going to say "The Changeling", but turns out that's actually Canadian. More a ghost story than a horror movie, I s'pose, although difficult to know where to draw the line. And it's just outside the arbitrary three decade boundary that's emerged here. I find it odd that Silence of the Lambs is often referred to as a horror movie. Really? How? Where? It's a thriller, pure and simple. +1 for "The Thing". I'm trying to think of the last genuinely scary movie I saw. I did actually like several moments from "Paranormal Activity", although the movie overall is rather contrived and annoying. (The characters are amazingly stupid.) It might be "The Descent", which seems to have been lightning in a bottle, as I've found all Neil Marshall's other movies to have been stupid, derivative crap. The opening ten minutes of "Scream" was really good, but after that section the movie goes for comedy first and foremost. I know many people would disagree with this, but I also thought that "Signs" was genuinely creepy and effective the first time I saw it. I think so many people hate the ending of that movie and/or the water thing that they dismiss the entire movie, but it has some brilliant moments.

  • The brits excel at making horror movies, in all shapes and forms. They even have the perfect culture to produce them good. Thrillers, psychological, ghost stories or gore, the brits can make them all.

  • Agree or not, i never failed to understand what Britgeek wants to say. The same cann't be said too often about our friend Harry Knowles, bless his heart.

  • It's also one of the rare movies that actually gets right the theological implications of the act of revenge. The people who wrote the movie actually know their christianity.

  • Aug. 16, 2011, 3:06 p.m. CST

    The best horror i have seen this late years has been from Koreia.

    by AsimovLives

    One movie in particular, THE UNINVITED (the Korean movie, not the american), is a terribly overlooked small masterpiece of psychological drama (or maybe there's more to it then just the trauma of a few people!). And of course, there's A TALE OF TWO SISTERS. Which is a total masterpiece.