BLANK is a new sci-fi thriller that plays out like a long episode of Black Mirror with a nice hint of Misery. Rachel Shelley is in the absolute lead of this very creepy story that runs a bit too long, which is a shame. Read our full Blank movie review here!

BLANK is a new sci-fi thriller starring Rachel Shelley as a writer with a very intense case of writer’s block. She’s looking at that damn blank page while fending calls from her agent and ignoring over-due notices. To help her get started (and actually finish) her next book, she goes to a writing retreat.

Since this new sci-fi thriller takes place in an unknown time period, things are a bit different. Or rather, technology is. Primarily AI and physical robots are. This immediately gives it a vibe of Black Mirror while the events unfolding lends a touch of Misery to the plot.

Continue reading our Blank movie review below. The film is out on September 23, 2022.

Black Mirror meets Misery

I know, comparing anything to Black Mirror is setting dangerously high expectations. However, both the scary elements of technology and the vibe can hold up to the comparison. And then to add Misery to the mix, does obviously make for an even more dangerous layer of expectations.

However, since we are dealing with a writer, who is essentially forced to write her book, it does make sense to compare it. Of course, the AI robot named Rita is nowhere near Annie Wilkes in Stephen King‘s Misery. But both are dangerous in their own ways.

On top of both the world of scary technology and a “writer forced to write”-plot, we have a mystery. The main character, Claire Rivers, is battling her own demons from childhood. Maybe her memories can be the key to writing her book. For the time being, though, they only lead her to drink. A lot!

Blank (2022) – Review | Sci-fi Thriller

Small but wonderful cast

Rachel Shelley is wonderful in the lead as Claire Rivers, the writer who has to go through so very much. The writing retreat, which only has AIs for company, starts out being a nice and tranquil place. However, this changes very quickly, when the Android meant to be her in-house assistant, encounters a software issue.

The AI robot (or android, if you will) looks like a Stepford Wife and is portrayed perfectly by Heida Reed. As the android, Rita, Heida Reed needs to be devoid of emotions. But she is also able to convey very real emotions when reading aloud from written pages. And that is straight-up terrifying!

Finally, we have Wayne Brady (Whose Line Is It Anyway?) as the AI in charge of everything. While he exists only in Cyberspace, he shows up in the house (where the writer’s retreat takes place) in classic Star Wars style. He’s projected in full size though he does get rather glitchy once the software error occurs.

These three actors really do make up the entire cast in the present. In the past, we see Annie Cusselle as a Young Claire, and Rebecca-Clare Evans as her mother, Helen Rivers. These flashback scenes from Claire’s past are creepy in a very different way than the present-day Black Mirror world. I’ll leave it at that!

Watch Blank in theaters or On-Demand

Natalie Kennedy is the director of Blank which has a screenplay written by Stephen Herman. This sci-fi thriller is the feature film debut of Natalie Kennedy, who has done both short films and worked on TV series prior to this. Stephen Herman co-wrote the Prime Video film Black Box for the Blumhouse Halloween anthology 2020.

For me, Blank worked really well for a long while. There is perhaps a bit too jarring a gap between the style and vibe in the flashbacks and the present time. I feel confident in saying that this is intentional, but the film is stronger when sticking with the sci-fi thriller style of the present-day story.

Also, it does run a bit too long, which is a shame. Especially since the runtime is already under 100 minutes, so it should be able to carry this. Rachel Shelley and Heida Reed are so amazing in this movie, that I do want to recommend it. I just can’t help but feel that with a few tweaks (or cuts), it could have been really amazing!

Blank is out in Select Theaters and On Demand from September 23, 2022.

Details

Director: Natalie Kennedy
Writer: Stephen Herman
Cast: Rachel Shelley, Heida Reed, Wayne Brady, Rebecca-Clare Evans, Annie Cusselle

Plot

Struggling author, Claire Rivers signs up for a fully A.I. operated retreat to help her writer’s block, but when an unforeseen software glitch occurs, she gets trapped inside her unit with a malfunctioning android, a degenerating host and no communication with the outside world. As time is running out, food supplies getting desperately low and the android becoming increasingly unstable, Claire must overcome her fears and find a way to outsmart the technology in order to make it out of the retreat alive.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina