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directed by Chris Crow
UK 2011

Four users of the social networking site - single mother JO (Scarlet Alice Johnson, THE REEDS), nerdy Max (Jack Gordon, FISH TANK), trendy Gwen (Elen Rhys, SEASON OF THE WITCH), and obnoxious Dave (Michael Jibson, THE BANK JOB) - have won a trip on a private jet from London to New York, with the chance for more prizes if they play the special game devised by their host - voiced by Joshua Richard (TROY), who only appears as a talking alligator on video touchscreens at their seats. The first round is a quiz which asks each of them questions related to things posted on their profile, but the host reveals that he knows more about them than they think and exposes Dave as a cheat, Gwen as a hypocrite, Max as a stalker, and Jo as an alcoholic who desensitizes herself both in the virtual and real worlds. The next round of the game exposes their online behavior from contradictory statements to disturbing viewing habits. When the four decide they no longer want to play the game, the host reveals that forfeiture of the game means the forfeiture of the lives of people on their friend lists (with live video of their gory deaths). The four are unable to gain access to the cockpit or internet access to call for help (their attempts lead to more deaths) and they soon discover that the plan is scheduled for another destination entirely. "Alligator" then separates them and challenges each to personal tasks with the lives of each of their loved ones - Jo's daughter, Dave's fiancée, Max's brother, and Gwen's sister - dependent on their success without arousing the suspicion of the others. Paranoia sets in as at least one of them is not who s/he says they are and another has been ordered to kill one of their number to save those that they love.

Obviously inspired by such social networking tragedies as a recent suicide broadcast online and other situations in which "friends" failed to intervene or openly mocked people crying out for help, PANIC BUTTON doesn't so much hit all the familiar notes of the sinister side of social networking as sledgehammer its points like a twisted after-school special. "Alligator" isn't particularly subtle about tut-tutting the four characters about the hazards of their online behavior ("maybe it'll come back to haunt you one day"), and the script could have spent a bit more time surprising us and the characters with the sort of things they made public on their profiles; however, it is quickly revealed that their host has more specialized access to all of their online lives beyond what they've made public themselves (it might have also been nice if the filmmakers had made something of the continually vexing mini-invasions of privacy that one particular social networking site imposes upon its users with each re-imagining of its timeline and sharing applications). "Alligator" is just as preachy as other recent delusional movie killers who profess to be teaching their victims life lessons, but lacks the usual impassive demeanor (he does just about as much shouting as his victims). In the end, the film is less of a cautionary tale than a high-concept thriller with social networking as its hook. That said, PANIC BUTTON is a compelling thriller (far more so than the idiotic HELLRAISER: HELLWORLD which explored the dark side of online gaming with another quartet of youngsters tricked into an exclusive offer and set up for torment, with poor Pinhead barely making a cameo) with ultimately sympathetic characters, good lead performances, excellent pacing, and slick tech credits, but it is not as thought-provoking as it would like to be.

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 27 August 2011 (UK)

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DVD Review: Showbox Media Group (screener) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Showbox Media Group

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:31:39 (4% PAL speedup)

2.39:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.59 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Showbox Media Group

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.39:1

Edition Details:
• screener

DVD Release Date: November 7th, 2011

Chapters 1



The disc under review here is a time-coded DVD screener sporting an anamorphic, single-layer transfer with stereo audio. The press release cites a trailer gallery, gag reel, outtakes, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and a photo gallery as its extras. The Blu-ray edition, HERE, also features an exclusive documentary.

  - Eric Cotenas

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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:


Showbox Media Group

Region 2 - PAL


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