Competent but middling suspenser achieves just moderate tension when would-be killers find their plan unraveling.

Competent but middling suspenser “Blame” achieves just moderate tension with a single-location predicament in which would-be revenge killers find their plan unraveling under pressure. Writer-director Michael Henry’s first feature has an intriguing premise but doesn’t provide enough pulse-pounding or psychological aspects to do much more than simply hold interest. Pic is likeliest to be remembered if its helmer or any among its cast of rising young Aussie thesps proceed to the big leagues. Offshore theatrical sales will be spotty.

Fortyish music teacher Bernard (Damian de Montemas) arrives at his rural home outside Perth only to be set upon by five hooded attackers who force-feed him an excess of sleeping pills, then stage his “suicide.” They’re friends of a girl who had an affair with the teacher three years earlier, and who has killed herself. But once the fleeing quintet realize they’ve left something behind, they return to discover the dose wasn’t fatal. What’s more, Bernard credibly pleads innocence over the girl’s death — and fingers someone in the group for withholding their own guilty secrets. Perfs and packaging are solid, but “Blame” lacks a knockout punch in both style and storytelling.

Blame

Australia

Production

A ScreenWest and LotteryWest in association with Melbourne Intl. Film Festival Premiere Fund, Fulcrum Media Finance and Screen Australia presentation of a 3 Monkey Films/Factor 30 Films production. (International sales: High Point Media Group, London.) Produced by Ryan Hodgson, Melissa Kelly, Michael Robinson. Executive producer, David Lightfoot. Directed, written by Michael Henry.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35, widescreen), Torstein Dyrting; editor, Meredith Watson Jeffrey; music, Tamil Rogeon; production designer, Clayton Jauncey; art director, Emma Fletcher; costume designer, Sarah Jameson. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 13, 2010. Running time: 89 MIN.

With

Damian de Montemas, Sophie Lowe, Kestie Morassi, Simon Stone, Mark Leonard Winter, Ashley Zuckerman, Greg McNeill.

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