The Amber Alert is a system that was implemented in America in 1996 when police and broadcasters joined forces to develop an early warning method to help authorities to find missing children. Messages are continuously flashed on motorway message boards, radio bulletins, television stations, etc, to keep the details of the crime fresh in people’s minds.
It was created as a legacy to the murdered 9 year old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted while riding her bike near her home in Arlington, Texas, and stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response. It has proved to be a valuable tool in the fight against the dreaded Child Catcher, although studies have shown that using it too often can be detrimental to its aim, as people tend to become apathetic to the alerts and subconsciously tune them out.
Sad, but true.
I’m stuffing my face as a charity asks me for money for starving Ugandan children right now, and believe me; I have no intention of picking up the phone and donating.
That doesn’t make me a bad person, and it does not mean that I don’t care about the plight of malnourished children, it just means that it’s very hard not to become desensitised to these sort of things when you’re sat in a warm house, in a comfy arm chair, taking advantage of your fully stocked fridge after watching a torture porn film.
These my friends are first world problems.
Amber Alert is a film about Sam and Nate, best friends who are putting together an audition tape with a younger sibling for one of those god awful reality shows (which one exactly we never become privy to), and while on one of their trips out to make them look as ‘zany’ as possible, they become aware of the car that has been mentioned in an Amber Alert that has been flashed a few times while they have been on the highway. Being good citizens, they decide to follow the car after the police response is less than speedy, and get themselves into much more hi jinx than their cutesy shtick on the audition reel could have predicted.
We have all had enough of the found footage genre, believe me, seeing the words ‘only the tapes survived’ practically brings me out in a rash these days, so when I saw that this was the angle the film was taking, I nearly switched off then and there, but I had I done so, I would have really missed out.
Amber Alert is an extremely clever, suspenseful and at times heartbreaking film that uses the pure anticipation of the outcome and the awful reality that this situation isn’t so far-fetched to really keep the viewer on the edge of their seat throughout. The two main characters are without doubt unbelievably annoying, and do make it hard to watch in parts while lurching from the shrill, almost hyperventilating tones of Sam’s voice to the pathetic cowardice of Nate’s whining, but they do manage to redeem themselves by the credit roll, at least, so characteristically they aren’t entirely abhorrent.
By giving us a fresh twist on the tired old ‘caught on tape’ usually saturating the market with ghost stories and monster movies , first time writer/director Kerry Bellessa has given us something original and more thought provoking than the usual shaky handed throwaway fare, and if this is her first attempt at the big screen then she has proven that she has the potential to really contribute something special to the genre.