‘Blame’ it on the weather, and murder

A Wisconsin-made indie thriller draws on the 2019 polar vortex, new faces and intertwined personable characters

By Freddy Moyano

Detective Young, played by “Blame” scriptwriter Richard Blake, hunts for truth in the midst of a Wisconsin winter and double homicide in the 2021 film. Photo courtesy of Rayni Day Productions

Most thrillers succeed when they get into the audience’s mind.

If I had to explain how this genre works to my 9-year-old, I would say a good thriller is like a big bubble, slowly expanding in size and intensity, only to burst it at the very end amidst the hoorays of the delighted audience.

“Blame,” the 86-minute thriller released this year, made a great “bubble fan” out of me.

The film was released in September and featured a showing at De Pere’s Get Reel Cinema. With streets and yards now lined with snow, “Blame” stuck with me as the weather is a pivotal factor in the film’s production and cohesion. It is steeped in well-crafted storylines and plays out like a miniseries with a long timeline behind it.

When I spoke with first-time director B.J. Rayniak at the film’s premiere, he said the winter elements were an unplanned but welcome addition to the film. When his production crew heard a polar vortex was about to strike the states throughout the Midwest, and many parts of Wisconsin, they were quick to set the film in motion so they could shoot main scenes in real weather conditions.

At the end of January 2019, a winter storm blanketed most of the state in over a foot of snow. Soon after, a polar vortex rolled through and caused temperatures to plummet below zero for days. I believe the cold and snow added a relatable factor and help solidify the “bubble” intensity, reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s bitter cold atmosphere created in “The Shining.”

The plot revolves around five friends who seek refuge after a wreck while traveling in harsh conditions. Far from following an “I Know What You Did Last Summer” approach, the film lays out a wise combination of flashbacks and present times. This structure allows the viewer to dive into each character’s backstory.

Somehow the personalities of these five friends, or accomplices, collide and quickly spin out of control. Soon, the group resorts to finger-pointing and remorseless blame over a double homicide.

“Blame” director B.J. Rayniak can be seen working on location during the 2019 polar vortex that hit most of the Midwest. Photo courtesy of Rayni Day Productions

Detective Young, played by an upcoming producer and scriptwriter for the film Richard Blake, sides with justice, law and order and is both hated and loved. Young’s personality forces the viewer to wish he’s making mistakes, no matter how right he may be. Young revels in his interrogative techniques and enjoys himself along the way.

While I enjoyed the performances of Lauren Buckley (Mia), Delayne Mitchell (Andy) and Rachel Lynn David (Ella May), the evolving personalities of Austin Brook (Blake) and Roberto Jay (Logan) amplified the film’s psychosis-laden climax outlined by Rayniak’s team. (Quick note, is it coincidence or director’s intent that the first initial of each main character spells out the film’s title? The rabbit hole deepens.)

Jay, an up-and-coming Chicago actor known for his role in the Jeff Daniels’ “American Rust”, brought a good performance as Logan, a seemingly innocent personality with something to hide.

On the contrary, Brook, whose career started with contributions to TV shows like “Dexter,” shows off a sassy side within the film’s first few minutes. The character leaves the audience wanting to know more about his background and obsessions, besides guns.

This patchwork of well-managed characters, weather-derived resourcefulness, poignant film length, special effects use, and sound and color treatment create a film to be enjoyed in the midsts of Wisconsin’s infamous winters.

“Blame” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and other popular platforms.

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Freddy Moyano has spent almost two decades in Northeast Wisconsin working as an actor, voiceover artist, film editor and entrepreneur. Moyano has produced over 20 motion pictures and earned international recognition such as Best Nature/Wildlife Film Jean Luc Godard Award in 2020. He is the founder and a director of Green Bay-based, international film festival, MLC Awards. Find more information about Moyano and the MLC awards at www.mlcawards.com and www.imdb.me/freddymoyano.

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