By Steve Anderson | April 14, 2007

“In the Dark” only sounds familiar. Basically, it’s another one of those “Last Broadcast” kind of movies, where a bunch of kids snuck into a burned-out mental institution as a Halloween prank and were dumb enough to videotape their crime. But what’s on the footage is a whole lot more than a criminal trespassing charge. Plus, there are also a coterie of security cameras still somehow operating in a scorched building–possibly for this exact purpose–and that will also shed additional light on the “true story” taking place before us.

The back of the box, meanwhile, says that all the footage is real. The opening text crawls will back up that assertion. The overall effect is disjointed, but this kind of disjointed effect actually does it some good. It lends a note of randomness to the proceedings that allows for lots of shock value. As we switch from camera to camera to camera, perspective to perspective, we get a lot of opportunities for the good old fashioned jump-out-of-nowhere scare.

LOTS of opportunities for jump out of nowhere scares. And they will use every one to incredible effect. “In the Dark”, especially the last half of “In the Dark”, is jammed full of tension building and shocks.

Even better, the different cameras actually provide different perspectives in their own right. For instance, some of the security cameras swivel, providing a one hundred eighty degree view of the surrounding area in intervals. Others are fixed, showing only what’s directly in front of them. But none are wired for sound, which gives some passages an eerie silent quality. Some cameras will even take advantage of well-placed mirrors to show glimpses of supposedly off-camera action.

Also, the cast does a fine job of conveying “1989”. I’m almost convinced that this footage is from 1989. The last fifteen minutes of “In the Dark” are devoted to a harrowing, nightmarish chase sequence with even some surprises packed in. One of these surprises is an absolute masterstroke of irony, and it’s not even the final twist. All in all, yes, okay, it’s been done before. But it is easily on par with the best of the lot. “In the Dark” is a shocking, terrifying romp that shouldn’t be this scary…but is.

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