Edges Of Darkness
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Edges Of Darkness

In general the horror genre of film has been extremely flexible in content and presentation but over time a few have taken on the place of default settings for this particular type of entertainment. One of the more popular and therefore completely overused is the zombie apocalypse. It seems that an inordinate number of independent film makes choose this regrettably hackney theme for there specialty. For many aficionados of zombie flick the high water mark is the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ by one of the undisputed masters of horror, George Romero. His film was a masterpiece of terror perfectly overlaying a morality play concerning the state of our society. It didn’t take long after that film achieved the status of cult classic until the plethora of imitators sprung up. It should come as no surprise that the vast majority of the flicks that would follow would fail to even approach that film for ingenuity or novel presentation. One recent film that at least made an honest try to do so was ‘Edges of Darkness’. Although it does not manage to achieve the heights of Romero’s initial opus it does hit squarely on the mark for a realistic try. Much of the movie comes across as a form of experimental Indy cinema which is perfectly acceptable although it is an acquired taste. Right up front it must be stated that diehard fans of the genre will most likely not like this movie. Although it contains sufficient gore and bloodshed to qualify as a zombie flick but the general format diverges from what has become expected. While the film exhibits a reasonable number of faults and missteps but it is not due to the usual lack of imagination or outright laziness of many film makers who endeavor to tackle this theme. Here the cast and crew exhibit a degree of talent that will certainly thrive and expand as they become more experienced. It is especially exciting to see a group of people dedicated to honing their craft.

The film was written and directed by the team of Blaine Cade and Jason Horton. This is the initial directing effort for Cade but both men have worked in various aspects on several other films including another zombie flick ‘Rise of the Undead’. According to their published photographs they both seem too young for this but I get a definite feeling that there was more than a little influence here reminiscent of the old EC horror comics I used to read as a kid. Most zombie flicks have degenerated into a mindless stream of blood and gore that has become all the rage since the regrettable advent of torture horror ushered in by ‘Saw’ and its ilk. The focus here represents a more psychological approach currently seen more in the Japanese variation of the genre. Furthermore another plot device that once was more popular in horror stories is brought back here; converging, loosely inter connected story lines. This also was fairly common place with the horror comics we read much to the chagrin of our parents and teachers. Usually a zombie post apocalypse nightmare depicts the small group of survivors actively fighting the lumbering undead menace. Here Cade and Horton have devised a novel approach by following three separate groups and how the zombie infestation affected them and what changes their made to their lives in an effort to cope and survive. This allowed them to construct a dark view of life in this world from divergent vantage points. This technique opened up the story nicely permitting a more robust film. A big part of this is the way the heavy lifting of telling the story could be spread across three dominate threads instead of placing everything on the shoulders on one small group of zombie hunters.

The location for a horror film is vital. It is usual best to confine the survivors in a claustrophobic locale devoid of the slightest spark of hope. In this case there is an apartment house in a small, gated community. There are three threads that combine to form the tapestry of the overall story. Actually, in this case it is all about the threads more than the larger picture, that grander viewpoint is obtained by the viewer’s personal synthesis of the parts into an overall vantage point. The initial danger of the zombie infestation has subsided leaving small, isolated pockets of humanity to deal on their own. In one apartment Dean (Jay Costelo0 and his wife Dana (Alisha Gaddis) are trapped in the endless, ‘No Exit’ like isolation largely confined to their apartment. Dana is going stir crazy which is exacerbated by the sight of the grounds keeper becoming a zombie dinner. Dean has a makeshift generator that is used to keep his computer running. For him this is vital in order for him to occupy his mind writing horror stories. The next story line concerns Heather (Michelle Rose) who is a devotee of all manner of survival skills. While the current set of circumstances may not have been what she had in mind but her training certainly comes in handy. One night while foraging for supplies she manages to rescue a young mother and her son. The last thread in this macabre opus is a point of view I really don’t recall ever seeing before. Stan (Alonzo F. Jones) and Stellie (Shamika Ann Franklin) is a young couple also trapped in their apartment Stan has been out to get groceries but has to wait for the cover of darkness to retrieve them. It turns out the groceries in question is a young woman Natalie (Annemarie Pazmino. The plan on bleeding her slowly, drinking her blood to survive. You never think about what happens to the vampires when most of their viable food has turned into zombies.

Each of these story lines is given the opportunity to get just a little darker and stranger. The boy that Heather brings home is ill and his mother sends Heather back to their place for medicine. When she gets there she discovers a group of priests convinced the boy is the anti-Christ responsible for the plague of undead. Dean’s new special computer chip turns out to be pure evil and Stellie starts to talk to her food, a bad move for a hungry vampire. The film was made for about $25,000 and in many ways it shows fortunately this is one genre that a small budget can help. It all comes down to the fact that these young film makers took a risk to try something off beat. Such experimentation is how cinema progresses and overall this example is entertaining and interesting.

Posted 02/15/2010

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