Panic Button on Blu-ray

Monday, 31 October 2011 05:46

In “Panic Button”, four regular users of the fictitious social networking site All2Gethr.Com are surprised to learn they have been awarded a dream holiday to New York, with spectacular extra prizes on offer during the flight. The contestants board a richly-furnished private jet and, champagne freely flowing, unthinkingly agree to the terms and conditions of the competition, little realising that the stakes for failure could be stratospheric.

The players are young mum Jo (Scarlett Alice Johnson – “Adulthood”, EastEnders), Internet moral guardian Gwen (Elen Rhys – “Season of the Witch”, Holby City), computer wiz-kid Max (Jack Gordon - Primeval) and mouthy and lewd Dave (Michael Jibson – “The Bank Job”). Their joyful mentality quickly transforms into shame, sorrow and then anger and terror as the mysterious Alligator avatar in control of the game pries deeper and deeper into their private lives, and reveals some truly dubious online activity.

Panic Button comes to Blu-ray and DVDAs the increasingly sinister quiz progresses, the foursome begin to question who they are, and what motives drive the all-knowing, unseen question master (expertly voiced by Joshua Richards in the manner of a chilling version of Mr Smith from The Sarah Jane Adventures).

A product of the British independent movie industry, “Panic Button” is a concise, punchy and tense piece that really grabs your attention and never lets up. The revelations about each of the characters and why they are involved in the competition are expertly paced. The commendable acting ensures we simultaneously feel sympathy for the players but also despise them as we learn what they are really like, underneath all of their lies and public exteriors.

The film hits the zeitgeist spot on; it deals with the current addition to social networks and how some of us use them as a cover for stalking strangers, cyber bullying and sharing obscene and immoral video clips. Some users put on a fake, bravado persona whilst others reveal their true selves, believing they are untouchable. The movie shares a lot in common with “Saw”, both in the moralising and punishment meted out to misbehaving players. The pixelated Alligator is this film’s version of Jigsaw’s Billy puppet, though slightly less unnerving!

The game’s Alligator character exposes how easy it is to access private system accounts and logs of activity to bring users to their knees. Even if this message is not 100% realisic, it should still make everyone who watches the movie think twice next time they log into Facebook et al.

Given that the majority of the film is spent inside the cramped jet cabin, director Chris Crow does a great job of keeping the audience visually amused. The pristine cream leather and walnut upholstery is gradually spoiled by various means, in effect a metaphor for the emotional strips being torn off the characters. The Blu-ray picture quality is sharp and it highlights the cold, clinical palette Crow has chosen for the film. Mark Rutherford’s theme tune aggressively points to where the film is going to head, setting pulses pounding.

Special features include:

  • Trailer Gallery - Trailer and Three Teasers
  • Gag Reel
  • Outtake (‘Jack Loses It’) and Two Deleted Scenes
  • Making of Featurette
  • Gallery
  • Blu-Ray exclusive Panic Button documentary (an interesting feature on how both private and public funding was raised to make the movie. You’d never guess the budget was just shy of £300,000!)

The ‘Jack Loses It’ outtake is quite a funny fake Christian Bale-style rant by one of the actors that completely catches the director off guard. The other features are solid enough for this kind of release.

“Panic Button” (2011) is released on 7 November 2011 on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Showbox Media. The main feature has a running time of 92 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD, £24.99 on Blu-ray, or less from

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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