What constitutes a horror movie? Is it how scary the film is? Does it have to incorporate supernatural elements such as ghosts, demons, or vampires? Mileage may vary there, though, as what creeps one person out could be considered mundane by the next. That understanding of distinct fear factors contingent on each viewer is precisely what makes reviewing a film within the genre so bloody complicated.
Darkness Comes (aka Dying Light) is a horror movie that will appeal to individual audience members. Eddie (Owen Whitelaw) picks up the intense Suze (Kelly Wenham) and they break into an abandoned warehouse, or so Eddie thinks. As things heat up, Suze injects him with a concoction that makes him unconscious. She ties him to the bed, paints the walls with blood, then knocks herself out.
Eddie wakes up and can’t recall anything. He is able to break free from his restraints and phone the police. The officer (James Cosmo) on the other end of the line reassures Eddie that help is on the way. In the meantime, he tries to piece what is happening and then Suze wakes up. As her plan comes to light, Eddie realizes that forces beyond his control are vying for his soul.
“…ties him to the bed, paints the walls with blood, then knocks herself out.”
Aside from a few lines about their meeting, the opening 20 minutes are virtually dialogue-free. It is captivating in its silence. Director David Newbigging establishes the confines of the room well and keeps the initial interest of the odd happenings high. Shockingly, Darkness Comes never becomes stale to look at, thanks to good cinematography and moody lighting.
Gordon McLean’s script offers up a mystery that is engaging and intense. When the supernatural elements come into play, roughly halfway through its 70-minute runtime, it keeps those balanced well enough. Sparse though the dialogue is, almost by necessity, it is all exposition. This means Eddie and Suze are blank slates with their only personality traits stemming from the acting.
“…a mystery that is engaging and intense.”
Whitelaw conveys Eddie’s confusion and frustration at his predicament in a very tangible way. He and Wenham have excellent chemistry, so the reason they hook up is easy enough to buy. Wenham is splendid as Suze and witnessing her go back forth between unpossessed, and the evil entity controlling her is remarkable. As just a voice on the other end of the phone, James Cosmo is creepy, adding tension and intrigue to the proceedings.
There’s a whole lot to recommend in Darkness Comes and any flaws already discussed are minor. However, this particular critic never found the movie altogether scary. As Suze’s eyes turn black, as she slowly rises to grab Eddie, in the first demonic scene, never got my heart pumping nor thrilled me. In a horror movie, not being scared is an issue.
Darkness Comes is well acted, with great editing, and a compelling, mysterious setup. It never quite soars though, as its creep factor never ratchets up with the wilder turns the story takes. Give it a watch, and if you find it scary, then you are in for a treat.
Darkness Comes (2018) Directed by David Newbigging. Written by Gordon McLean. Starring Owen Whitelaw, Kelly Wenham, James Cosmo.
5 Gummi Bears (out of 10)