Blame (2010, directed by Michael Henry)
A troubled young girl kills herself. A group of her friends head straight from her funeral to the home of her former piano teacher, and lover, looking for vengeance and justice. What they find instead is more than they bargained for...
One of the real joys of a festival as big as Toronto is stumbling across a new talent, someone who demands that you tuck their name away in the back of your head and wait for their next offering. Michael Henry was one of those people for me this year. I walked into Blame with zero expectations for a little Aussie revenge thriller from a first time writer/director, and came out with another name tucker away in the back of my head.
Don't get me wrong. Blame doesn't re-invent the wheel. This isn't a debut on the level of, say, Reservoir Dogs. You know basically what's going to happen pretty quickly: the plan falls apart, new information comes to light, relationships are strained. But Henry knows exactly what he wants to do and where he wants to go, and the film marches forward with an energy and confidence that belies it being a freshman effort. Partly this a product of the script, which finds plausible reasons for its characters not to ask the obvious questions (or at least not ask them quickly enough) and avoids too many convenient coincidences. But a lot of credit has to go to the cast, particularly Kestie Morassi as the dead girl's sister Cate. She's the emotional center of the film, putting the pieces together just a step or two behind the audience, and plays it all with amazing strength. She, moreso than Sophie Lowe in the showier role as best friend Natalie, came out looking like the next A-list Australian acting export to me.
Blame is just a tight, taut thriller, with no tricks or twists. If it reminded me of anything, it'd be the early work of John Dahl, back when he was coming off the nouveau noir one-two punch of Red Rock West and the Last Seduction. But Henry's very much got his own voice and style, and I'm dying to see where he goes next.