Its 3:37 pm
So I was all lined up to review “Ultra Q” for our 399th review….it was and is sitting next to my my computer. It was ready for me to grab some coffee and write it up.
But last Sunday my good buddy Catfish called me and said he wanted to have lunch at this cheesesteak joint in Westland. So I drove on over and we had a overpriced and rather crappo sandwich. Now normally we sit and talk but we both weren’t feeling it so we headed on over to Big Lots. Now while I had heard from various film buffs about finding some great deals there,I hadn’t been to a Big Lots in a very long time.
So Catfish and I decided to duck in and see what the ruckus was about and check out their film section. I have to say,I get it now…..Big Lots is delivering the goods if you are a film/TV collector,the selections are good and the prices are coming down as well. I found a few deals which included “Dark Was The Night” which we ended up watching Sunday night…..
The film opens up with a tree cutting site,its getting close to the weekend but there is one crew still up at the current site. The foreman attempts to call them down but gets no answer,he gets angry and tells them to come down now,when he hears a garbled voice come back,he gets worried and drives up to the crew’s site but there is nothing to be seen.
The foreman hears a noise and thinking a man may be hurt,goes towards the sound only to see a torn off arm…..he runs for his truck but he is a bit slow and meets his demise…
100 miles to the south in a small town called Maiden Woods,Sheriff Paul Shielda (Kevin Durand) and his deputy Donny (Lukas Haas) are the only two officers in the town. Both men are fighting some serious personal issues,Paul has lost a son when he drowned and is nearly destroyed by the guilt,he and his wife Susan are separated and are taking turns in caring for their other son Adam.
Paul is barely functioning and despite Susan’s compassion and Adam’s wanting his mom back home,Paul just is too deeply wounded.
When strange events start to happen in Maiden Woods,like the birds leaving enmasse and in the wrong direction and several incidents of livestock and pets vanishing suddenly,Paul and Donny are called in to investigate. When a set of tracks is discovered that run through the entire town and extends 3 miles outward before ending,Paul wonders if its just a well thought out prank.
But after several close calls and the town starting to panic,Paul and Donny start to wonder just what is out there in the woods and when a hunting party is savagely attacked and a survivor ranting about monsters,Paul asks for outside help. But a huge storm is on its way that is blocking any hope for help. It doesn’t get any eaiser for the two cops when local bartender Earl,who is from the Shawnee tribe,starts to tell stories that forewarn of deep trouble when people didn’t respect the land they were carving up.
This leads both Paul and Donny to do research and to consider what Earl says to have some truth to it.
After Paul is attacked in his own home,he and Donny gather up what town residents are left and head to the town’s church in the hope of holding out until that help can arrive…..
This is a very different film….what on the surface is a creature feature film based on a type of Canadian monster called a “Wendigo”,here they are called “wendigas” and instead of being just one main creature,it turns out there are a lot more of them.
But screenwriter Tyler Hisel is more intrested in looking at the fallout of the death of Paul and Susan’s son Tim and to some extent,what happened to Donny as well.
Deep guilt is a terrible burden and seeing that I have experience with this in my own life,I was curious on how Hisel’s script handle it. Thanks to one of the best actors working today in Kevin Durand,it is handled gently and very real. We see that Susan (Bianca Kajlich) loves her husband very much and that she is hurting as well because she feels she may be losing Paul as well if he can’t forgive himself. What I really respected about Hisel’s script is there is no Hollywood ending here,that Paul and Susan have a long way to go but that at least they are going to go as a couple. (I know,that is spolier but hey…)
Durand is one of my favorite actors working today and if I was casting for the new Jack Reacher film/series,he would be my first choice. The man can do comedy,action and genre films. He can be a total bad ass as he was in the cult favoite “Legion” and in “The Strain”. His performance as Paul Shields is among his finest work.
Director Jack Heller gets the most out of a very good cast,Haas and Kajlich are also quite strong here and Haas has really blossomed as a solid character actor.
I loved the look of the film as well,it looks murkish and a little grainy but works to its advantage. The creature effects are lean and spare,the creature is practical and Keller uses him smartly and avoids the easy way out by using CGI. The score is also excellent and helps build up the suspense but not at the cost of the main story,Darren Morze is the man behind the music and despite scoring well over 100 films,this is the first time I have heard his work. We’ll soon be fixing that!!
While “Dark Was The Night” will have been out six years by the time many of you will have read this review,we hope you’ll take our word when we say its a film worth a look if not a buy. Mixing a creature feature with a family drama is quite a challenge and Hisel and Keller have pulled it off.
“Dark” is unrated but I could say it is a rated R film for language and themes. It has a run time of 98 minutes and includes a pair of featurettes in the special features.
You can also buy a copy by going to the website of RLJE Films.
The cheetah and I gave “Dark Was The Night” a thumb/paw straight up.
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