Don’t Look Away: The BRWC Review

Don’t Look Away

Don’t Look Away: The BRWC Review.

While all genres have tropes and clichés, horror is a special breed that embraces conventions and you have to go with them on a movie-to-movie basis—just like all films. It’s how the filmmakers work with those conventions to create something new and fun.

Although the film Don’t Look Away delivers some effective tension and thrills, the overall byproduct feels held back by its limitations in clunky storytelling and raw performances. However, despite those shortcomings, the movie also manages to create a genuinely scary and creepy horror concept—a killer mannequin.

Written by Michael Mitton & Micheal Bafaro A.K.A. The Michaels (​​Amber’s Descent, Ascension) and directed by Micheal Bafaro (The Barber, Embedded), Don’t Look Away follows Frankie (played by Kelly Bastard in her feature film debut), a young woman who is haunted by a mysterious figure after a hideous car accident. It follows her back to her home and life, as it infects her boyfriend and group of friends with the same cursed visions—which cause unexpected and grisly deaths. But if Frankie can just not “look away” from the horror, maybe she can survive. 

As conventional as this premise sounds, Bafaro does a good job injecting it with a few artistic flourishes in framing and editing that really get into the main character’s paranoia and mindset. It really wears its influences on its sleeve with direct references to It Follows, Smile, and The Shining—especially with the Stanley Kubrick film. However, it doesn’t come off as hacky, but rather as an homage that made this reviewer chuckle from time-to-time.

In fact, there’s a general goofiness about Don’t Look Away that’s appreciated in the horror genre. It’s likely that you’ll laugh more than be terrified or scared, while it’s not completely clear if that’s intentional or inept.

Although the killer dummy is the highlight, the film seems to fall flat with pacing, performances, and lore. There’s simply not enough to keep this premise going for a feature length movie, even at a short 83-minute running time. It seems padded and not fully baked at the same time, while big chunks of it feel as lifeless, and wooden as the mannequin itself.

Overall, Don’t Look Away has some thrilling highs, especially with its bookends, and fun concepts with an unsettling, yet fun, killer figure as its centerpiece. However, its elements just don’t come together in a satisfying way with clumsy writing and dry performances. And much like the mannequin, it’s recommended that you approach this film with caution. 

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Rudie Obias lives in Brooklyn, New York. He’s a writer and editor who is interested in cinema, pop culture, music, NBA basketball, science fiction, and web culture. His work can be found at IGN, Fandom, TV Guide, Metacritic, Yahoo!, Battleship Pretension, Mashable, Mental Floss, and of course, BRWC.


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