DIRECTOR: Tim Brown
WRITER: Carey Dickson
When two estranged brothers reunite for a hunting trip in British Columbia. They get a lot more than they bargained for when they are stalked and hunted by a mysterious and terrifying creature. As tensions reach breaking point due to the underlining issues that the brothers have with each other. They must try and band together and survive before they fall prey to this unknown evil.
Looking at the poster for Devil In The Dark, it really doesn't do this film any justice on how gorgeous this film looks on an aesthetic level. Looking at the poster for this flick, I assumed I was about to witness a Syfy channel movie production. It seemed pretty cheap with the monster on the poster appearing like he was photoshopped into that creepy forest setting. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty worried when I pressed play on that remote. I had feared the worst.
Devil In The Dark is a movie that sadly missed the mark for me. There are things that I really enjoyed about this film but the bad outweighed the good by the time the end credits began to roll. I think as a second feature film, this shows a lot of promise by a director who has a very keen eye for visuals. I found that the movie on an aesthetic level was actually a joy to watch. One of the things that I will take away from this is that I will keep an eye on Tim Brown and see what he does next.
The highlight of Devil In The Dark is definitely the cinematography. There are a lot of gorgeous shots of the British Columbia wilderness and mountains. I thought the way that they used the camera in the film was effective in building tension. We have a lot of shots that pan out or rotate overhead to reveal how vast the wilderness is and how easy it would be to get lost out in these mountain ranges. I thought these tricks were successful in leading the audience into the third act of the film.
Now onto the issues that I had with this movie. Firstly, I wasn't a massive fan of the whole estranged brother storyline. It seems that when it comes to horror cinema and the plot revolving around two family members reuniting, it always seems to be filled with bad blood and mounting tensions. Why can't we have a story where two family members reunite because they want to see each other and want to spend some time together. I really thought that one brother was far more annoying than the other and I felt myself only caring for one of them. The fact that they bicker and argue for the entire film weighs heavy on my lower score for the film.
Another problem that I had with the story is that it really doesn't make all that much sense once the third act tries to wrap itself up. I think its heavy on the metaphorical interpretation and it will really divide the audience. The ending shot before the final credits roll also left a lot to be desired as it had me asking more questions than not. I think the writer had a few really solid ideas that were trying to play things on a more psychological level, but they just sadly couldn't bring the story together in the end. It feels like they tried to add a few too many ingredients.
The last issue that I wanted to bring up is the awful CGI creature effects. Once we hit the third act and the creature starts appearing more often on the screen, I thought it was underwhelming. The more we see of it, the more disappointed I became with it. Instead of using practical makeup effect, they GCI the creature, and it lessens that impact of how terrifying this creature could have been. A note that I took down while watching it was that it felt very similar to the Hannibal TV series. When Hannibal is shown as the deer man, it's a lot creepier in the series.
The acting in the movie is actually pretty great. The movie spends most of the time with Dan Payne as the older brother, and Robin Dunne is his younger brother. While I found the dynamic of the two annoying due to all the arguing. I can't deny the acting. I think that Dan Payne is fantastic in this movie. He delivers a performance wracked with guilt. I believed every emotion he gave me. As for Robin Dunne, I also think he was solid. While his character is a little more hard to take and like, I think by the time we get to the end of the film, I felt for his character.
Lastly, I want to talk about the atmosphere in the film. For a movie that builds up to the reveal of a terrifying monster, I think this movie was a lot more successful in its gradual slow burn approach. I found the earlier scenes a lot creepier than the final attack scenes. I think the vast landscape cinematography was far eerier than all the creature reveals. While it has a couple of jump scares, it didn't really do all that much in sending chills up and down my spine.
DEATH TOLL: 1
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Someone has their arm broken back into place.
- A man is dragged off by a monster.
- A man is impaled on deer antlers.
Devil In The Dark is filled with some excellent cinematography of the British Columbia wilderness and has a couple of solid leading performances from Dan Payne and Robin Dunne. It's sadly let down by a story that doesn't make all that much sense and one character who is terribly unlikeable. I will definitely be keeping an eye on director Tim Brown as I think he shows a lot of promise. With a little more focus on tying up all the loose ends, we may have had something pretty special. I recommend this movie for the eerie camera work.