January 11, 2019 The Dark (Movie Review)
The late-Whitney Houston released the song “Greatest Love Of All” back in 1985, and through her amazing voice came the words, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well, and let them lead the way….” If Ms. Houston were alive today, she would have added the line: “Yeah, as long as they aren’t on a murder-spree, wielding a hatchet in their hand.” These lyrics would be yelled, not sung, and especially so had Ms. Houston seen a movie called The Dark, a 2018 Horror/Fantasy offering from Dark Sky Films set for release on DVD as of Tuesday, January 15, 2019.
Written and directed by Justin P. Lange, The Dark is an interesting film to witness, blending together many elements in a unique fashion to tell the story of how the lives of two teeny-boppers collide under horrific, heartbreaking circumstances. Such a collision occurs when the mysterious, man-on-the-run Josef (Karl Markovics: The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014, A Rose In Winter 2018) arrives at a gas station acting all nervous and jittery, buying cereal and other much-needed survival items, finding his way to a decaying, old house secluded in a forestal area called “Devil’s Den.”
Many of the town folk living around the area of Devil’s Den know never to visit the place because a presence there haunts the woods. This presence will rip off the flesh of anyone curious enough to step foot into the forest. After a quick look around the house, Josef begins hearing strange noises. He soon comes face-to-face with young teen Mina (Nadia Alexander: Blame 2017, Instinct series), bearing nasty wounds on her face, and is partly covered in dried blood. Her hair unkempt, her nails long and untamed. She is also holding a hatchet.
As it turns out, Josef is not alone, for here Mina is introduced to Alex (Toby Nichols: Iron Fist series Desolation 2017), a teeny just like Mina, only Alex’s eyes are welded over, shielding him from any sight. Since Josef is on the run, for mysterious reasons, the police are searching for him. Mina and Alex escape into the woods where they hide from the outside world as they both get to know one another, and of each other’s past.
The Dark explores the idea of how hard, catastrophic happenings can impact the lives of young children, and to what degree a child will go to forget it. After a full-viewing of the film, the audience will surely catch the gist of the message being conveyed on the big screen, but, 95 minutes later, though, it will seem like such a waste of genre-blending. The Dark has its share of scares, and builds enough tension to keep the audience glued to his or her chair, but it will all be for nought, and will seem pointless and unnecessary as a high body count reaches its max capacity, shadowing over the real focus of the story.
The weakest link of The Dark is how it pretends to be a Horror film. So many people are murdered for no apparent reason, whatsoever. There is hardly a reason for any and all the violence involved. For a girl who had been brutally attacked, and for a boy who had the same occur to him, it is a mystery why they would exact such acts of brutality to others, including one poor police officer, who, at first, seemed to be having such a wonderful day—but for some reason was ill-informed of the “ghostly” ways and happenings of “Devil’s Den,” since being on the force for however long, before falling victim to a gruesome, absolutely unnecessary death. It gets better: there is much wonder how a bunch of tall, strong adults could falter at the hands of a child so easily. A higher body count occurs during the middle act of the film, marking this point its most weakest, rendering the movie almost too laughable to take it seriously. One could only wish to tell these two children that the poor saps they are killing are also the ones trying to help.
As a writer and director, Lange has many great tricks up his sleeve in creating a mood piece such as The Dark. Although deemed a Horror film, The Dark would have worked better as maybe a Thriller, or even a Drama, leaving all the gory, body counts to Jason Vorhees and Jigsaw, but left in the “Supernatural” elements sprinkling the story for a sugary kick. The dialogue between actors Alexander and Nichols is a huge plus, which is never dull, and always interesting. It is a treat watching these two fine actors bring their characters alive. Together, on-screen, they create a strong bond, ultimately causing their characters to mature right before the eyes of the audience. Lange proves himself a great director for this reason alone.
The Dark is not a bad film, and should not be seen as such, but if members of the audience welded shut their eyes, hearing only the dialogue between the two main actors, there lies within a powerful, moving story. For those who opt to keep the eyes peeled to the screen, will be greeted to some of the best cinematography, lighting, and make-up FX this side of Earth. The Dark has wondrously, lush scenery, that, for every image of the forest, the secluded house, and its surroundings, will forever be locked away in the memory banks.
Although The Dark may not rub an anxious viewer the right way, there is plenty of greatness in the thick of its fat. Nadia Alexander and Toby Nichols shine as actors, the crew behind the scenes are some of the best in the industry, and Justin P. Lange will be on a lot of Top Ten lists of genre film directors in the future. For the real story hiding under the fog of Horror, Cryptic Rock gives The Dark 3.5 out of 5 stars.