There have been many movies exploring the paranormal. There is, in fact, a whole subgenre of horror devoted to tales of paranormal investigation, or ghost hunting, gone wrong. Darkness Hunting introduces us to a team of would-be paranormal investigators looking to fake a ghost-hunting expedition. This semi-farcical take by Adam Sergent is fascinating and provides a new twist I haven’t experienced yet in this kind of film.
As we learn from the get-go, Derek Jenkins (David Rice) does not actually care if they turn up a ghost. Instead, he’s intent on faking a paranormal investigation and doing just enough work in post-production to con a Cable network to pick up his series. So long as he and his team end up in a creepy-looking place, then that’s enough for Derek. But David has two detractors on his film crew. Jennifer Howard (Damita Harris) is the voice of reason and suggests picking a remote farmhouse in Kentucky may, in fact, be a perilous idea.
The other detractor is Eli Smith (Wheeler Green). Eli is a local from that part of Kentucky and has the full background of the location. There was a witch who lived there. Cultists have frequented it over the years and have sacrificed everything from animals to humans. Or so the lore of the place goes. Both Jennifer and Eli seem very reasonable people, and you wonder if they will survive the ordeal being foreshadowed for Act III. As Boyd Alred (Jordan Bryant) and Derek go deeper into the farcical lunacy of attempting to summon a spirit who may or may not live in this abandoned farmhouse, one detail becomes inescapably clear; there is something wicked haunting it.
“…does not actually care if they turn up a ghost. Instead, he’s intent on faking a paranormal investigation…”
Writer-director Sergent is very wise to break Darkness Hunting into chapters. First, this prepares the viewer for the continuing farcical lunacy and potential danger. Second, the title headings are hilarious. Finally, the third chapter, ‘The F*****g Board,’ is absolutely on point. As Jennifer suggests at the end of the previous chapter, nothing good ever comes from using an Ouija board.
I found the acting and directing to be solid. This is Sergent’s second feature, and he seems to have a real grasp of both storytelling and coaxing out naturalistic performances from his actors. For the picture to work and achieve its end of being a good horror-comedy, the actions must feel localized to time and place. This definitely felt like contemporary middle America, and Eli’s quoting of church and biblical wisdom situated it to rural Kentucky. I also enjoyed how production assistant Sarah (Madison Deatherage) plays what would have been the strumpet character most horror films are gleefully prepared to insta-kill. She gets the giggles going with her sex-positive attitude. Further, a selection of vignettes with a tarot card reading Madam Veronica (Chris Olds) is quite delightful.
Darkness Hunting is a pretty good film. While it didn’t possess a lot of belly-bursting laugh-out-loud moments, it did elicit the occasional wry grin and chuckle. If you’re looking for a comedic take on ghost hunting, seek it out. It’s sure to be a film you won’t soon forget as it is a gloriously demented idea for a movie.
For screening information, visit the Darkness Hunting official website.