It is not often that a birthday party from hell occurs, but when it does, you can bet your bottom dollar that pin the tail on the donkey pales in comparison to playing with a Ouija board. But hey, as long as everyone is having a good time, they can open as many doors as they wish, right? Well, aside from the fact that a few bystanders are likely to join in on the fun, the degree of uncertainty that comes with contacting the dead is a high one. So high, in fact, that strange visions and distorted voices are such that you’ll be wondering if you’ve awakened from a bad trip. Make no mistake — Don’t Panic is not a film which depicts drug use. It is, however, a film that will have you question what you are experiencing, which is part of its appeal. I wouldn’t say that the film is always successful in that regard, but the face which emerges from the TV screen as well as the moment in which Michael hallucinates blood pouring from a faucet are of note in that the intersection of technology and the supernatural is present. In fact, it is an idea that is played with more than a few times, and so Rubén Galindo Jr. gets a fair bit of mileage out of it by way of premonitions and warnings.
There is an attempt at a subplot in which Michael’s mother and father are portrayed as an alcoholic and a workaholic respectively. What I mean by attempt is that although it is apparent that his parents are absent, the extent of their addictions isn’t addressed, which leaves something to be desired. However, I don’t think the portrayal of their addictions is a complete miss in that it complements the fact that Michael’s belief in the supernatural is regarded skeptically which, now that I think about, is an approach that shows thought. It bears that mind that even if not many are not convinced that there are evil forces at work, the possibility as to whether Michael is committing them is not exempt from being brought into question.
I suppose I should talk about the entity, Virgil, since he possesses Michael’s friend Tony by way of the Ouija board. There isn’t much to it, but considering that Virgil shows no mercy, he makes for a decent threat. I find it odd that no one catches Tony in the act, especially since he stabs one of Michael’s friends multiple times. Is he really that nimble? I don’t think so, and from what I can remember, Michael is the only one who can see Tony which, bearing the hallucinations in mind, makes sense. It’s just that the logic isn’t the most concrete, which is hard to overlook.
I wouldn’t consider Don’t Panic a shining example of Mexican horror, but at the same time I can’t fault the director for attempting to appeal to the American market. He tires and, while the result is uneven at times, I can’t say I’ve seen a movie which contains scenes of a teenager running around the city in dinosaur pajamas. It’s silly, sure, but you’d be hard-pressed not to get a kick out of such scenes.
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