#31in31: Dark Was the Night

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Oct 27 Dark was the night“You notice the cell service is down?”

Story: Welcome to Maiden Woods! Population 243…and steadily declining. Maybe because loggers are creeping into something else’s turf. That something is pissed, and hungry. And of course there’s a bad storm a’coming.

Scares: Plentiful. The story quietly amps up the suspense and scares.

Splat factor: Middling. Most stuff happens in the dark and/or offscreen, but the after-effects of said carnage is pretty red.

Closing scene “shocker”?: Yep, and it’s completely unnecessary.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original, though you’ll catch a whiff of wendigo lore, and several other “Mother Nature payback is a bitch” stories.

Trick or Treat?: Now THAT’S how to kick off a monster movie! Great intro with this film.  Dark Was the Night is an effective little piece of horror that will suck in all but the most disillusioned horror fans.

Kevin Durand (Vikings, The Strain) is Our Hero, Sheriff Shields. Separated from his wife after the death of one of their children.  But of course there is still the love.  Lukas “Will People Finally Realize I’m An Adult” Haas, the new Big City Deputy that just came to town from NYC after being shot in the line of duty. Both men are damaged, questioning their lives.  So when the bad stuff starts going down, they’re eager to latch onto something that will bring them meaning.  And also, save the town.  That too.

As for the monster here, screenwriter Tyler Hisel has a great idea, tying in Native American lore about spirits that don’t like it when man disrespects nature. So basically it’s one badass Lorax with a vengeance complex. Director Jack Heller does some great camerawork here, giving viewers a taste of the monster without actually doing the Big Reveal ’til the climax.  (My favorite bit: the monster coming up behind someone, as seen in the reflection off of a shiny copper pot.  Slightly warped, a little fuzzy, but you know damn well it’s Right Behind You…)

Unfortunately, the final scene is a “but wait!” that kills the monster climax for me. (Especially since the twist here was something I’d figured was a possibility long before that last moment.) C’mon, can’t we have a monsterfest where things are wrapped up without the last minute possibility of a sequel  nonsense? Sometimes a catharsis is all that’s needed. Twists aren’t twists anymore when everyone has ’em, y’all. SIIIGH. And you kids get off my lawn!

G’head and give this a spin.  There’s plenty of good stuff here, and lots of chills.  And if I snip out that last 10 seconds?  Dark Was the Night can be added to The Babadook, Late Phases and The Purge: Anarchy as some of the best horror to come around in the past few years.

Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins. Would have been a damn near perfect horror film if not for that senseless, “boo!” ending that I’ve seen a zillion times before.

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Birds are flying out of the area like they’re beating the devil. Hmm…

Wendigo

Scary, spooky,

They gather the people still in town into the church for the night.

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