From The Dark Sheds New Light on Familiar Genre

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From the Dark Horror review Blu-ray Critical Blast

FROM THE DARK, available on Blu-ray, tells the haunting tale of a young couple who are on a road trip around the Irish country side. When they develop car trouble, they seek help at a nearby farm house and it isn’t long before they discover a terrible evil is lurking in the dark.  A creature has been awakened from a thousand year slumber by the owner of the house who unearthed it while digging in the bog, and the couple soon learn the only safety they have from it lies in the light. But night is falling quickly, and the darker it gets the more powerful the creature becomes.

The movie has a very limited cast and stars Niamh Algar and Stephen Cromwell as the young couple Sarah and Mark.

There have been a lot of horror movies shot “in the dark” over the past several years, in various surroundings ranging from houses to woods to caves. In this respect, FROM THE DARK is very similar. Where it does differ from many is in the strength of the acting and the camera angles used to shoot many of the scenes.

While, yes, there are some shots that are almost gratuitous in this genre of movie, there are more than enough differences here that make this movie a fresh watch.  There are some scenes where you can pretty much guess what is going to happen next, but it’s in them that the actors' demonstrate their ability to portray believability, enough that they suspended my disbelief so that I can really enjoy it.

There are not a lot of surprises in this movie, so telling you about any of them here would be doing you a disservice.

Director Conor McMahon did a very fine job of filming this movie in the relatively close confines of the house, when inside. I found myself feeling eerily confined in a way I had not felt since the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. In fact, I found myself comparing many of the scenes inside and outside of the house to scenes from that movie... and I mean that in a very good way. It’s amazing how scary a simple room or a short walk to a shed can be in the hands of a director who knows how to work the most out of a camera lens to create imagery and emotion.

Where it went a little off track for me was that, while the premise of the creature not being able to stand the light is a solid one, the fact that it could be afraid of the light of a single match was a little much. I mean, there were scenes where Sarah was walking about lighting one match at a time; the moon outside was casting more light than the one match was. But, hey, I can’t say it still wasn’t very creepy.

I also enjoyed that the movie blended a little of the modern zombie flare, in that people could be turned into one of “them” as well as seeing what happens to “them” when they are exposed to too much light. Again, this is done a little differently than you’ve seen before.

This is one of those movies where the girl plays the tough brave heroine trying to save herself and her partner, and she goes through a lot. In one of the creepiest scenes I have ever seen in any movie anywhere ever, Sara is in the dark corner with the creature lurking in the room looking for her. While she is trying to be quiet, a spider resembling a daddy long legs (a real daddy long legs type spider!!!!) is crawling on her neck and face. The composure that Niamh Algar has during this scene is such that she never once even flinches, and had me going, "Wow now that is acting and staying in character!"

The special effects were good but nothing spectacular, and that was fine with me because it lets the scenery and mood take center stage. Of course there is some gore in this movie--in this type of movie there is going to be--but it was never really over-the-top.

As a caveat in watching movies on video that are filmed mostly in the dark such are this one, you may have to look hard to see what is going on, especially if your TV is in a brightly lit room. That aside, this is a very enjoyable “popcorn and large soda” horror movie that, while it is formulaic in ways, differs enough with strong acting and directing to set itself at the top of the heap.

The only extras on this disc were a behind-the-scenes making of and the trailer. The behind-the -scenes was smartly done, in that it progressed thru the whole movie showing how some of the different scenes were shot, explaining the thought processes behind the angles with input from the actors, and showing how closely knit they seemed to be in making this movie. It was also interesting to see just what kind of equipment was needed to film a simple scene in a room that looked like it might have just been done with camera in hand. A nice watch that wasn’t too long.

4.0 / 5.0