FRIGHTFEST REVIEW: ‘Blinders’ (2020) is an Engaging Study of Entitlement

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“An engaging, subversive study of masculinity, entitlement and privilege.”

Los Angeles is known as the city of dreams, a place for new beginnings and where people go to escape their pasts. That’s also how it has largely been portrayed in film and television, aside from a few notable exceptions, such as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, Los Angeles’ reputation precedes itself, for better or for worse, and that is in part thanks to its depiction in media.

In his latest film, writer and director Tyler Savage attempts to deconstruct this stereotype by initially leaning into it before ruthlessly tearing it apart. Blinders centers on Andy (Vincent Van Horn), a man desperate for a new beginning after his girlfriend cheats on him with a co-worker. Equipped only with his dog and his belongings, Andy sets out for Los Angeles in hopes of a fresh new start.

Andy finds himself at a bar on his very first night in Los Angeles, where he meets Sam (Christine Ko), a bright and beautiful woman who has been ditched by her friends. The two hit it off and soon embark on a romantic relationship but a chance encounter with an unhinged rideshare driver (Michael Lee Joplin) threatens to destroy the new life he has started crafting for himself.

Played to perfection by Vincent Van Horn, Andy is a character that is easy to root for, his close relationship with his mother and his adorable dynamic with his dog making him seem disarmingly charming in a way that allows anyone to empathize with. Van Horn tackles the role with effervescent charm and charisma, while also bringing nuance to his performance, portraying Andy like a man with the weight of the world his shoulders who still chooses to look at the bright side of every situation.

Joplin, on the other hands, brings some more frenetic energy to the film, channeling Jim Carrey circa The Cable Guy in an unhinged, unrelenting performance. As a rideshare driver who develops a dangerous obsession with one of his passengers, Joplin is an absolute riot, practically stealing the show with his fantastic portrayal of a lonely man in desperate need of a friend. He is also dangerous when the film calls for him to be, his performance curdling into an angry, impassioned crescendo as he is increasingly ignored and dismissed by Andy. Ko is also fantastic as Sam, injecting the film with much needed brevity as a bubbly young woman who we soon discover has much more to her than meets the eye.

Savage directs Los Angeles in a way that has rarely ever been seen on screen; like a bleak, daunting shadow of the version of it we’ve seen countless times before. It’s a perfect juxtaposition to Andy’s cheery, happy-go-lucky persona – his endearing optimism a sharp contrast to his dark, depressing surroundings. Savage’s script is also sharply written, with the film starting off like a gender-swapped version of Single White Female before it transforms into an engaging study of masculinity, entitlement and privilege. It twists, turns and weaves in and out before it pulls the rug from underneath its audience, leading into a subversive but surprisingly satisfying gut punch of an ending that will leave you wanting more.

Dir: Tyler Savage

Prod: Tyler Savage, Daniel Pisano, JP Castel and Dash Hawkins

Cast: Vincent Van Horn, Michael Lee Joplin and Christine Ko

Release Date: 2020 (FrightFest)