I’m sure National Geographic would love viewers to believe that “American Blackout” is exactly what would happen during a week long black out in America, but while the film itself is an entertaining horror film, it’s played mostly for shock value. Truly, “American Blackout” is fact based, presenting facts about our current emergency preparedness in America, but the narrative plays it to extremes. In either case, “American Blackout” does offer the notion that we’re screwed if we ever had a national catastrophe. Even in 2003 when the entire North American grid went dark, the US Government didn’t change their system, and won’t invest time in fortifying the power grid for the sake of emergencies.
It’s never made certain how doomed we’d be in interviews, but many experts have proclaimed that we’re not as prepared as we should be. “American Blackout” works as a horror film and a thriller where we view a glimpse at the end of the world that peeks through our bubbles for almost two weeks. “American Blackout” focuses on a series of characters, all of whom are affected in some way through the black out, and how they attempt to survive as civilization slowly begins to crumble. After a terrible cyber attack destroys the power grids all over America, causing transformers to burst in to flames, America confronts a black out that extends well in to a week, forcing civilization to struggle for survival. The sub-plots are all effective, if played to manipulate us in to terror and tension. In different corners of America, we view a young mom on the verge of giving birth, a young son left alone while his mom works at a local hospital, a dad who retreats to an emergency compound with his family, and a sheltered young couple in a high class condo looking for food.
Meanwhile, four college students are stuck in an elevator with no one aware they’re stuck. Probably the most compelling of the bunch is the plight of the college students. While everyone has the ability to move around and hide, the small group of strangers has to cope with thirst, and starvation, all the while staving off cabin fever, and claustrophobia. When they decide to climb to the top of the shaft to break through to the roof, things become ever more harrowing, as they face potentially falling to their deaths and no one to come and aid them. Much like every apocalyptic film, the beginning of the film is played with a nervous tension, as most of the characters ease their boredom with camp outs and barbecues to prevent wasting their gradually defrosting food. But as the days pass, the situation becomes even worse than anyone ever imagined, as the food shipments in to the country cease, and citizens begin attacking one another for a bottle of water.
One moment finds the young couple in their condo coming down to the streets to find some food, and have to viciously beat a guy when he attempts to mug them for a can of peaches. The young son left at home begins his predicament with an air of apathy, and soon grows uneasy and horrified when considering his mother may have died during the blackout. “American Blackout” is an entertaining and often creepy film about the decay of society and how easy we are to destroy as a civilization thanks to our over dependence on electricity and fossil fuels. While it can’t be taken as a one hundred percent accurate depiction of the end results, it does have some valuable nuggets of wisdom to offer its audience. Be prepared, and ready yourself for the worst.