Title: Dark was the Night
Horror sub-genre: Creature
Synopsis: “An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.” (Excerpt IMDB)
Overview: Over the years homicidal stalkers and vengeful ghosts have toyed in our nightmares. Yet, Zoological and/or Cryptozoological terrors have gripped our very consciousness. From great white sharks to cryptids, the creature theme subgenre is as much of a staple in horror cinema as slasher and paranormal films. Creature films have become centerpieces of our anxiety, making us wary of heading into water or venturing into the sewers. The creature subgenre have endured the test of time and the latest entry to the genre is the 2015 film “Dark was the night”.
“Dark was the Night” is an atmospheric well crafted creature film directed by Jack Heller and written by Tyler Hisel. Although the opening scene immediately offers heart pounding tension, the sequence resembles any horror movie of similar premise. The set-up is intriguing enough to seize attention and the director did just that and nothing else. From that point onward the storyline is distributed at an intricate pace, guiding the audience into the developing mystery surrounding a small quaint town.
Performances: Frankly, one major flaw in the film is Sheriff Paul Shields portrayed by Kevin Durant. The character is a carbon copy concept of a typical law enforcement protagonist. Please correct me if am wrong but how many times have we seen a film and/or television program that offers the “divorced/separated/widowed cop not caring because X happened X years ago” The character design is atrocious, boring and serves no purpose within this tuned script. The screenwriter also decided to emphasize this horrendous character concept with Deputy Donny Saunders played by Lukas Haas. Saunders has demons of his own, the backstory in question resulted in him relocating to the peaceful town.
Nevertheless, despite the aforementioned flaws the actors behind these characters took what was given to them and offered intrigue to the roles. The effort is enough for the viewer to bypass the obvious and focus on the character’s purpose. Additionally, as horrific and uncanny events unfold we as the viewer can relate to the distress from the towns people. Fright, frustration and desperation expressed by the locals are believable. Their intensity is sincere and not overly done and every actor excelled in their individual portrayal. The cast played a big contribution in making “Dark was the night” a well recommended viewing.
Scare Factor: From the disappearance of animals, to the strange appearance of prints to the random animal attacks, the plot unravels without the use of cheap jump scares. Director Jack Heller uses extreme caution in providing the necessary attributes to entice the audience. “Dark was the Night” is peppered with suspense that draws the viewer within each scene. Danger, of unknown origin lurks within the low lit and at times claustrophobic backdrop its a subtle execution of horror that is scarce in current horror films. Unfortunately, all of the efforts in mystery and fright are wasted within the final scene of the film. The notorious inclusion of a CGI rendered creature rears its ugly and unwanted head. What was once a fierce Creature is now reduced to a laughable and outright poorly designed concept. If a glimpse of the final render would have been offered earlier the film would have suffered greatly.
Final Verdict: “Dark was the Night” is a well paced suspense horror film, well recommended to both the casual and horror movie connoisseur. Although the protagonist and his trusted sidekick are cliche riddled, the performance behind them are well received. The supporting cast exercised good skill as each character provides an interesting perspective into their ordeal. The film has strategically crafted glimpses of the creature but the final reveal desecrates the overall fright factor. If any potential sequel should occur a higher budget should be allocated to the special effects department instead of the CGI department.