And Soon The Darkness
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And Soon The Darkness

Blu-ray

DVD

It has been said many times that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In this modern video age the same advice might very well apply to the cover art on a DVD. The other day I opened the latest package of screeners from Starz/Anchor Bay to find a title called ‘And Soon the Darkness’ that I admit it I had not heard much about. When I saw the cover I admit that I jumped to an opinion of the movie contained within that thankfully turned out to be erroneous. The cover depicted the faces of two very pretty young women and a rather sinister young man. The collage also had a shot of the girls in bikinis, one of the running in blind panic through some trees and the image that contributed the most to my incorrect prejudgment, one of the girls tied up huddled in a corner. I did come across another poster for the film that just showed the girl’s faces with the young man lurking in the background with the phrase ‘Alone, Stranded, No One to Trust’. While the poster is a little closer to the mark the DVD cover lead me to believe this was just another slash and dash flick dependent on the latest horror fade, torture. As I started to watch the movie something became evident; this is not your run of the mill boobs and blood flick, it is a well thought out and presented suspenseful movie that will quickly gain and readily hold your attention. It may take a little time before you realize that you are watching something exhibiting superior quality than typically found in modern horror movies. That observation is part of the evidence of how this film is better constructed and presented that its contemporaries. It leads you into thinking that it is taking a mundane road when it turns off to an unexpected direction.

The film is an adaptation of the 1970 movie of the same name. Marcos Efron takes on the directorial seat here but shares the screenwriting credit with Jennifer Derwingson. She has a prior script under her belt but Efron does have experience in both jobs he takes on here. Considering the film makers here are relatively new to their crafts ‘Darkness’ holds together amazingly well. The movie opens in a familiar fashion with a shot of one of s young woman being tortured in the dark. This sets your expectations for a rehash of ‘Tourista’ but we move ahead in time some three months. We see two gal pals, Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman) in little shorts biking through the Argentine country side. They are on vacation but decided to ditch the tour bus to strike off on their own for a bit of adventure. They were about to get more than they bargained for. The pair is typical American tourists, unable to get by in the native language. Ellie is the more risqué of the pair, sexually aggressive and reckless. In contrast Stephanie is stable and misses her boyfriend. In a slightly sleazy Ellie grinds around putting on a show for the local men as Stephanie notices a man, Michael (Karl Urban) speaking to some local men. By this point there are several predicable moments than many horror fans would consider wasted opportunities. Ellie takes a show but, sorry guys, the modesty of the actress involved. After a bloodless, brief hint of torture and a skipped chance to flash some skin diehard aficionados of horror might be getting bored already. What has to be remembered is this is purposely intended to avoid the pitfalls that currently beset the genre.

As the plot is allowed to slowly simmer the girls have a falling out and part their ways leading to Ellie going missing. Further developments unravel were the audience is told that Michael is purportedly an investigator looking for a girl that disappeared a few months before. The exposition is subtle, encouraging the viewer to piece things together on their own. There are some nice little touches of cinematography by Gabriel Beristain. He is more known for action oriented flicks like two of the ‘Blade’ flicks and ‘S.W.A.T.’. Paired with the director they make for a formidable team producing a visually fascinating film. Just before Ellie is grabbed she looks up at a jet about to disappear behind a cloud; a peaceful note foreshadowing what is about to occur. The actual kidnapping is jagged, quick and violent. The overall pacing of the movie is impeccable. Efron appeared to had a strong sense of where he want to take the film and. More importantly, exactly how he was going to get there. This is a stark contrast to the wannabe horror masters who seem to drift along with as flimsy excuse for a plot fills in the time between torture sessions. This movie actually endeavors to tell a story rather than allow it to become overwhelmed by special effects. Okay, it needs to be noted that the end is predicable. The thing is it is in the fashion it has the feel of a camp fire horror story or perhaps a story from one of the old EC comic such as ‘tales from the Crypt’. It may be novel concept but I hope it catches on; less fake blood and entrails and more plot. This movie took the time to make the girls more than cardboard cutouts. This gives the audience enough of a basis to care about the plight of the young women. All it takes to enjoy this movie is the ability to let go of the preconceived expectations currently control horror and concentrate on the story.

Posted 12/23/2010

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