Friedreich Nietzsche Blame

Friedreich Nietzsche Blame


Cast: Damian de Montemas, Sophie Lowe, Kestie Morassi, Simon Stone, Mark Leonard Winter, Ashley Zukerman
Director: Michael Henry
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Running Time: 89 minutes

Synopsis: In a quiet country house, Bernard, a music teacher, is violently attacked by a group of four masked assailants. Caught unaware, confused and desperate, he pleads for his life. The young group, focused on their task at hand, stage his suicide from an over dose of sleeping pills. Their work done, the group clean any traces of their involvement and callously leave Bernard behind for dead.

As they drive home they learn that in the panic, Anthony has left his mobile phone behind. Fearing the murder and their identities will be discovered, Nick, all aggression and abuse, insists they head back. Reluctantly they return to the house. As Anthony searches for his phone, he is horrified to find Bernard missing from the suicide scene. The group put on their balaclavas once more and search the house for their victim.

Anthony's girlfriend, Natalie, finds Bernard with the mobile phone desperately trying to call for help. As she pleads with him to hand over the phone, Bernard recognises her voice - she was in his class. Natalie returns to the group with the news that her identity has been revealed and they have no option but to finish what they came here to do.

The group become desperate for another plan as Bernard demands to see Alice, a former student he deduces is behind the attack. Cate brings him the shocking news - Alice is dead from an overdose of sleeping pills. The group have been at the Alice's wake the night before and blame Bernard for her death. Cate, Alice's older sister, wants justice and accuses Bernard of recently restarting a tempestuous affair with Alice, something they began whilst still at school. Bernard argues that Alice wanted to resume their relationship but he turned her away. He wanted nothing to do with her and suggests Natalie can corroborate this. Cate questions her judgement and wonders if Alice has in fact lied to her about the relationship - she confronts Natalie.

Suddenly a Postie arrives at the house, the unexpected visitor threatening to expose them all. The group hide. Tensions rise after the postie leaves. John, who initially refrained from being involved, explodes at the group insinuating their plan was flawed from the beginning. Bernard, finding an opportunity to escape, manages to lock himself in the bathroom. The group begins to fracture.

Nick, aggressive and abusive, is set on finishing the job they started. Cate is confused and wants to leave. John realising he can no longer sit back - decides to clean up their mess.

They manage to trick Bernard out of the bathroom and drag him to the garage. They tie up Bernard and place him in the back of his car and start the engine - another staged suicide. Cate remains desperate to leave. John absolves Cate of all involvement and convinces her they have no other option. As they wait for the fumes to overcome their victim, they head inside to clean all traces of their visit. Cate convinced they are now wrong about the attack, sneaks outside and sets Bernard free.

The group are alerted to Cate's betrayal as Bernard scurries deep into the forest. Nick, carrying a rifle Anthony found earlier in the garage, chases after Bernard. John, Anthony and Natalie follow close behind. Cate remains at the house.

Bernard eludes capture and double-backs to his house. He finds Natalie watching from a distance as Cate is caught off-guard as the Postie returns. Bernard grabs Natalie and marches her back towards the house demanding she tell the truth. John and Anthony emerge from the forest and tackle Bernard before the Postie is alerted to their presence. They drag Bernard out of view as Cate signs for the package. The Postie leaves.

Cate opens the package to find a DVD addressed to Bernard. She plays the disc. On the video, a fragile Alice blames Bernard and Natalie's relationship and betrayal as the reasons for her suicide. It becomes clear that Natalie has orchestrated the day's attack, manipulating and lying to her grief stricken friends to hide her involvement and assuage her guilt. Cate races from the house, desperate to prevent a tragedy from unfolding.

Nick forces Bernard down to a river crossing and lines him up with the rifle. He has the perfect opportunity to shoot Bernard, yet can't pull the trigger - he's all bluff and false bravado. John snatches the gun and approaches Bernard. After a tense standoff John releases Bernard - it's over. Bernard, realising he is safe, walks away. Natalie, her plan in tatters, picks up the gun and tells Anthony that Bernard also slept with her. Cate runs down to the river, pleading with them to stop. A moment later a gunshot rings out. Anthony lowers the rifle. Cate drops to her knees, breaking into tears as she tells the group Natalie lied to them all. The group stand in shock, as Bernard lies dead at their feet. Blood trickles into the river from the bullet wound on his forehead.

Director's Statement
"He who fights monsters should look into it that he himself does not become a monster. When yougaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you."- Friedreich Nietzsche, In Horror

Blame grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Energetic. Tense. Confronting. In a world where the on-screen body count can border on the ridiculous, this is a story about the difficulties of killing one man. A man that deserves to be punished, but does he deserve to die? He is pursued by a young group of friends who have failed to get their facts straight. Failed to think through the deeper implications of revenge. A group who rush into killing someone like it's a "trip to the fucking supermarket".

This psychological thriller involves notions of power and guilt, culpability and justice. What starts out as a cohesive group with a strong purpose, ends as a group of shattered individuals who must deal with the emotional repercussions of what they have done. The explosive opening scenario is followed by a tense and delicately balanced second act, where the audience learns more about these characters as their situation goes from bad to worse. It then hurtles towards a climax that is traumatic and unexpected.

Cinema can be exciting and energetic, yet still have depth and meaning: this was my core mantrathroughout the entire production of Blame.

Blame is a perfect story for a tight budget. It was written with a realistic approach to filming and financing in mind: six actors in one central location. The production was focused upon achieving the maximum impact in performance, story and creativity for minimum expenditure. To create a film that punches well above its weight, where the budgetary limitations are invisible on screen. It's a film that transcends its budget.

Due to the manageable scope of the production, it was the perfect project to launch my feature directingcareer. My strengths as a director have always been my control of pacing and mood. Within the film's claustrophobic environment, these strengths served to heighten the tension and unease.

Blame demanded a strong and unique visual representation in order to elicit the most out of the story and its themes. Shooting the film essentially in one location meant that we needed to think about each room in the house as a separate location. Production design and lighting was integral in creating unique spaces, constantly moving the narrative forward, preventing the film from feeling staid and static.

Utilising three planes of vision (foreground, mid ground and background) in every setup were important in maximizing on-screen space and depth. Wherever possible we shot through doorways, windows or corridors. The decision to shoot in the 2:35 (cinemascope) ratio allowed characters to linger in the foreground, background and at the edges of frame. It provided another means by which to tell the story and heighten the subtext.

Most of the early scenes are shot primarily with wide-angle lenses, bringing into focus the details of each room, allowing an audience to feel as thought they inhabit the space with these characters. As the film progresses longer lenses are used in order to cut down the audience's field of vision, to draw an audience closer to the psychological journey of each character and exacerbate the sense of claustrophobia. This was an important choice thematically, for what starts out as a solid group with a definite purpose slowly fractures into individuals. The characters are trapped, both externally and internally. Hence there are far more close-ups in the latter part of the film.

The warble of a magpie. Footsteps on floorboards. A humming fridge. Sound plays a crucial role in eliciting the mood and setting of Blame. The isolation of the location is constantly reinforced with these sounds - at times it's so quiet that you can only hear a ticking clock on a bookshelf. We intentionally counter-point the silence with moments of explosive action. The score heightens the mood, constantly reinforcing the deeper themes at play. The sound design and score work together to create an immersive experience that unifies the film and intensifies the narrative. Deliverance (Boorman), Funny Games (Haneke) and Straw Dogs (Peckinpah) were strong influences both thematically and visually. Each of these films elicits a strong sense of unease and discomfort, often by disallowing an audience any form of escape. It seems strange to consider Deliverance a claustrophobic film, but in my opinion the fact the characters are trapped in a situation and environment they can't easily get out of drew large parallels with what I was trying to achieve with Blame.

Blame is a film that entertains. It's a film that explores the nature of revenge, vigilante justice and the youth of today. It's a film with strong performances by a talented cast. Ultimately, Blame is a film I am immensely proud of.
-Michael Henry, Melbourne, Australia, July 2010

Release Date: 16th of June, 2011


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