21st Oct2021

Grimmfest 2021: ‘Blast’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nora Arnezeder, Sara Mortensen, Pierre Kiwitt, Edouard Montoute, Olga Korotyayeva, Alika Del Sol, Léwine Weber, Marius Blivet, Pierre Marello, Anton Yakovlev, Rasha Bukvic | Written by Vanya Peirani-Vignes, Pablo Barbetti | Directed by Vanya Peirani-Vignes

In a Parisian parking lot Sonia (Nora Arnezeder) finds herself trapped in her car with her son and the daughter of her boyfriend Fred, who has been left outside, powerless to deal with the situation: an anti-tank mine has been set under the car. Sonia is a bomb-disposal expert, who works for a NGO with Fred. She just got back from a mission in Ukraine and, while she’s used to face dangerous situations, with the children’s lives on the line the stakes have never been higher. Along with colleagues Igor and Camille, who came to the rescue, Sonia and Fred have to diffuse the bomb and work out who could be the mastermind behind this.

Let’s be fair, seeing people trapped in situations against their will is a mainstay in cinema. And we’ve certainly seen a lot of films similar to Blast – hell, Speed did the same thing on a bigger budget and with a higher concept. But what Blast does do is tell a more intimate story. Here we have a mother and her two kids trapped in a car; along with a co-worker, who also happens to be in the same line of work. Then there’s the bomb disposal team, they know Sonia, they’re invested in her rescue. Which means we, the audience, are invested too.

It’s that investment in the characters, the more human nature of this story, that makes Blast stand out from the crowd. That and the fact the film doesn’t go for the bombastic. It instead spends its time on analysis, be it of the how and why the anti-tank mine has been planted or the scientific technicalities of defusing the mine. That more technical aspect of the film makes for a tense final product… I honestly find it amazing that, somehow, director Vanya Peirani-Vignes manages to make talking between the characters more tense then a powerfully-scored action set-piece we’d normally see in these kinds of films.

That’s not to say that Blast is without action. It certainly has that. There’s the procedural aspect of tracking down the bomber; the final all-out bid to try and get everyone out of the car without the bomb going off. And then there’s the final explosive (literally) scene that looks devastating…

Speaking of devastating, Blast ends with some harrowing stats on the Donbass region and the situation with landmines across the globe. Making you realise that, once again, the horror genre has used tropes, stereoptypes and cliches to put the focus on yet another societal issue, like horror often does. Yes, we can have stalk and slash, or T&A horror, or gore-filled horror but when horror touches win real-world problems, without bashing the audience over the head with facts, that’s when the genre shines.

**** 4/5

Blast screened as part of this years Grimmfest.

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