Black Site is described on IMDb as “80’s inspired John Carpenteresque Action (sic),” in a paragraph confidently attributed to its writer-director, Tom Paton. Considering The Void is still fresh in our minds, this is quite the comparison to make, particularly with a film as mind-numbingly dull as this one. Suffice to say, comparing your movie to Carpenter is usually a death knell. Especially when decent modern Carpenter-esque films actually exist and are easily accessible.
To be fair, it starts off intriguingly enough, with a metric tonne of exposition about the elder gods and the universe that’s interesting enough to hook us in. The titular spot is the setting for the entire film, which is fine if done well (single-location stuff can be brilliantly scary; see: Anthony DiBlasi’s Last Shift, set entirely in a run-down police station). But here, the scope is too narrow, especially given the premise, which falls apart pretty much immediately.
Related: Last Shift is 2015’s Scariest Movie
There are loads of characters competing for attention, and several different sub-plots, but the basic story revolves around the deportation of one of these so-called elder gods, which is currently inhabiting a human body. There’s a group of revolutionary types fighting to free him, an employee of the facility with a connection to him from a previous life, and a really annoying, chatty guy who has to get rid of him, presumably by talking him to death.
Black Site starts off at a decent enough clip, but quickly grinds to a halt as it devolves into a wannabe Silence of the Lambs-style police procedural with precisely none of the tension of that far superior film. Most of the so-called action takes place in a basement, with the elder god (played by a sort of poor man’s Iwan Rheon, whose hair mysteriously never dries throughout the movie) tussling with an agent.
When I say tussling, I mean the two of them are throwing exposition at each other. They speak back and forth for much of the movie without saying much of anything at all. As the agent, Angela Dixon clearly believes the best way to do intense is to narrow her eyes as much as possible, while the script has her swearing every other word to show how much of a loose cannon she is? Maybe?
As the almighty, Kris Johnson is inexplicably British (this is one of those Brit movies pretending to be American that never quite pulls it off) and does most of his scenes through his fringe (again, dripping wet). The third member of their little gang, Samantha Schnitzler’s lower tier agent with a kind-of secret, is so unlikeable it’s difficult to understand why we’re supposed to root for her at all.
Black Site hinges much of its drama and emotional impact on her character’s connection to the god known as Erebus. But, when it comes down to it, nothing actually happens that wouldn’t have been possible with or without this connection. There’s no tension, no inner conflict for her to resolve. She just has this connection, she gets mad about it, and that’s kind of it.
As for poor Lauren Ashley Carter, who also stars, needless to say she needs a better agent who doesn’t stick her in this rubbish. The whole thing is the very definition of a damp squib, with incoherent, dull action sequences that make zero sense contextually, no scares whatsoever, and no characters we can even momentarily get behind.
In spite of a decent premise, Black Site is a tonal mish-mash of try-hard action beats, wannabe police procedural sequences devoid of any tension, and precisely zero stakes. Nothing ties into anything in the end, so what’s even the point of it all? Do it single location, keep the gods in human bodies to allow for a low budget, but at the very least give us a reason to care.
WICKED RATING: (2/10
Director(s): Tom Paton
Writer(s): Tom Paton
Stars: Lauren Ashley Carter, Angela Dixon, Stephanie Schnitzler, Kris Johnson
Release date: TBC
Studio/ Production Co: TBC
Length: 91 minutes
Sub-Genre: Action, Sci-Fi