Mock-doc or discomfiting true-false hybrid, Rich Fox’s “The Blackout Experiments” is a queasy take on “Blackout,” an immersive haunted-house experience designed to prey on its participants’ worst fears and paranoia. “TBE” follows repeat participants through their experience with BDSM-type roleplaying, which includes the signing of legal waivers for the torture techniques that are employed. As Fox said before its Sundance 2016 premiere: “Shooting was very challenging, since we did not want to reveal our cameras to the subjects during the experience. The cameraperson’s location during Blackout had to be carefully choreographed with the actors. We employed an army of GoPros, some hidden, some worn on actors’ chest or heads. We had several GoPros rigged with an [infrared] lens so we could shoot in the dark. Outside of the Blackout scenes, we did what we could to have the movie look more like a horror film than a traditional documentary.” The result is more aggravating than frightening, at least from the distance of one or more mediating screens. 80m. (Ray Pride)
“The Blackout Experiments” opens Friday, July 22 at Facets.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His multimedia history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” will be published later this year.