From the night-monsters school of horror, this film tries very hard to tap into primal fears with its relatively clever and subtle style. Yet while it does deliver some good jolts, it never quite cranks up the terror.
Julia (Laura Regan) has a happy life with her hunky EMT boyfriend Paul (Marc Blucas), when a voice from her past comes back to haunt her. Billy (Jon Abrahams) is seeing monsters again–the same creatures of the dark that tormented both him and Julia as children, and this time he’s sure they’re back to get him. From here on, Julia’s life descends into a waking nightmare as she, too, begins to see these slithering beasts whenever the lights are off, which is happening quite a lot lately due to a series of rolling blackouts. So she links up with Billy’s friends Sam and Terry (Ethan Embry and Dagmara Dominczyk) to try and survive. Paul of course thinks she’s clearly losing her mind.
For folks afraid of the dark, these four terrified people spend an awful lot of time in places with desperately bad lighting! They also engage in rather a lot of numbskulled horror film behavior, such as investigating on their own any creepy basement, scary elevator, air duct, subway track or vacant country road they can find, usually with the help of an un-trustworthy flashlight. These obvious monster movie tricks somewhat undermine the rest of the film’s effectiveness.
Director Robert Harmon (who helmed the classic road thriller “The Hitcher”) does crank up the tension, getting nicely petrified performances from the young cast. After her work in the Brit-Canadian horror flick My Little Eye, the quite good Laura Regan is on track to win the Jamie Lee Curtis Scream Queen Crown of the year. While everyone else seems to be just having a bit of fun.
And perhaps that’s another problem: The film is wafer thin. The scares only exist for their own sake; the story has no real sense of threat until the very end. It simply plays on audience members who are frightened of being alone in the dark with a closet door ajar and dead batteries in their flashlight.
Well, that’s all of us then.