Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth (PANIC) Documents Twisty Found Footage Sci-fi Horror
Title: Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth
First Non-Festival Release: TBD
Director: Dan Bowhers
Writer: Dan Bowhers
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Starring: Morgan DeTogne, Michael Kowlaski, Mike Headford
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Panic Film Festival in 2023.
It’s often said that when someone goes missing, their disappearance is a fate worse than death. With death there is finality that facilitates grieving. When someone goes missing there is always the hope that they are out there somewhere, even if that belief is misguided.
Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth explores this feeling with Olivia Brandreth (Morgan DeTogne) deciding to film a documentary on the disappearance of her father twenty-five years after his last known sighting. This decision leads her and her crew down a twisted path of curiosity and terror.
Ambitious true crime mockumentary Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth crafts a captivating, if uneven, tale of sci-fi horror.
In the age of true crime influencing, the thirst for more content exploring the most frustrating mysteries only grows stronger by the day. Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth showcases the potential dangers going down a rabbit hole leads to if not properly prepared. Olivia Brandreth’s desire to get to the bottom of her father’s disappearance is a very human experience. With death, there is finality, but when someone is missing there is always a lingering question: are they really gone? This mockumentary explores the dedication of those who never give up on their loved ones to the point where they will chase any bizarre theory that could even remotely explain what happened. And Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth does so in a delightfully mysterious way that leaves the audience guessing until the end.
The second half of Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth pivots in a strange yet exciting way despite not fully sticking its landing. Once the story pivots to something far more complex than a simple disappearance, Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth gets lost in the details of making its imaginative world work. It is also what makes it so fascinating. The lore presented is engaging and thoughtful, but writer/director Dan Bowhers doesn’t fully flesh out some of the finer details that could give the story the extra push it needs. This is especially true when Olivia and Chris return in a way that seems muddled when dealing with the plot devices used in Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth.
For its low budget, Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth makes great use of its space and resources to create some truly effective scares. In the beginning, Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth makes good use of premise by slowly building this sense of dread. Ominous photos of shadowy cult members, an incompetent or willfully participating police force, and an overwhelming sense that something isn’t quite right about Nick’s disappearance make the indie feature easy to root for. Things do get wild in the third act, and by the time Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth makes good on its premise, it creatively builds this world that sounds both exciting and scary. The film does a good job at utilizing uncanny imagery and light/dark to highlight the creepiness of the forest and the conspiracy theories surrounding it.
While mostly fine, the performances occupy a very odd place of passing for realism and coming across as a dramatic re-enactment. Authenticity is the biggest hurdle most fake found footage and documentary horror films need to overcome. Oftentimes, the performances are most likely to betray this when filming. Thankfully for Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth, most of these consist of conversations with more minor characters or reactions to the terror around the subjects. It does bring the viewer out of the story a few times, particularly in the third act, but it isn’t too damaging to the film overall.
Mockumentaries and found footage films like Blue Hour: The Disappearance of Nick Brandreth continue to dazzle and shock in the best ways possible. This little indie sci-fi horror packs a punch despite its miniscule budget. Straddling the line of truly unsettling imagery and implications with it’s a bit overly complicated story makes this a solid gem worth recommending. Hopefully, it finds its home in a horror streamer soon, otherwise it’ll be left to live in a world where no one knows its true fate or get to experience it again.
Overall Score? 7/10