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Horror in which four winners of a competition find themselves taking part in a less enjoyable game. Jo (Scarlett Alice Johnson), Max (Jack Gordon), Gwen (Elen Rhys) and Dave (Michael Jibson) are delighted to win a trip to New York through a competition run on a social networking website. However, when they get on the private jet they believe will take them there, they find themselves forced to take part in a series of grisly games and engaged in a desperate struggle against an unseen enemy.
Horror flicks relating to social media/networking sites and apps have became common place in recent years, as film makers cotton on to the fact these services are now ingrained into peoples everyday lives. It has created a new sub genre for horror that has seen output like App (2013), Unfriended (2014), Ratter (2015) and #Horror (2015) either make it to the big screen and home video/streaming alike.
There are films before this cottage industry became a ‘thing’ that explored the ideas of social media/networking going bad. Panic Button is one such feature, having been made in 2010 and receiving its original release in 2011. As apps weren’t as widely used as they are now, in 2017, this low budget British flick concentrates on the perils of putting too much information on Facebo…, sorry, ‘All2gethr’.
That is the stand in name for Panic Button’s blatant Facebook parody. Four people, who seemingly share every detail of their private lives on this website, all accept the offer from this site to go on a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to NYC via a private, luxury jet. The story starts out with these four having a grand old time in the sky, while a voice over the PA system occasionally talks about what they have previously posted on All2gethr. At first the revelations are rather harmless (one guy buys genital wart cream) then become serious (watching videos of people being killed). If the contestants don’t divulge the info required they are forced to endure ‘forfeits’ (spoiler alert: people die).
However the film, beneath the surface, is strained and implausible. The gullibility of the trip winners is staggering. They are mostly one dimensional. There are several plot holes that the ending either doesn’t address or actually creates. Things happen that seem infeasible or happen for the sake of it happening.
Panic Button does have some decent gore moments, however. Although it is brief, there is a scene where a young woman is set on fire while strapped to a chair. The flick also brings to mind other horrors that use a similar premise or claustrophobic tone: Saw (2004), My Little Eye (2002) and Cradle of Fear (2002).
The movie is also limited in how many actors are used, thankfully they manage to carry the weight of this challenge.
The whole plot seems to be driving at the point that the hapless passengers have been giving away too much of their lives on social media websites. When they protest about revealing how many sexually partners they’ve had or if they watch snuff movies they are reminded that they have previously shared this knowledge online so why the big issue now? Its a valid point but that’s all it is, if the characters continue saying how what is happening is horrible they are again told “You agreed to the terms and conditions” and have brought this on themselves.
This is not the first time the movie has been released, but it’s understandable why Panic Button is re-released some years later. As mentioned, the sub genre which it is classed as part of has now grown and continues to do so. Although flawed this is entertaining and its run time, no pun intended, flies by.