Dark Was the Night DVD Review
Written by Giuseppe Infante
DVD released by RLJ Entertainment
Directed by Jake Heller
Written by Tyler Hisel
2014, 98 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on September 1, 2015
Kevin Durand as Paul Shields
Lukas Haas as Donny Saunders
Bianca Kajlich as Susan Sheilds
Nick Damici as Earl Lerner
Ethan Khusidman as Adam Shields
Steve Agee as Jesse
After a recent disturbance 90 miles north of a small town called Maiden Woods, something sinister is creeping in the wintry forest at night. Presently starring in FX’s The Strain, Kevin Durand takes a leading role in a feature film. He portrays Sheriff Paul Shields, a man who has been broken by tragedy. His deputy, Donny (Lukas Haas), has relocated to the countryside from gritty New York City to escape his own grief. As the reasoning for their aguish unravels, they discover a supernatural presence and are liable to destroy whatever is lurking in the night.
Dark Was the Night is one of those films that are more enjoyable when knowing less and letting it unfold before your eyes. The movie combines elements of the classic creature feature with the level of tragedy and human emotion in a Shakespearian play. The opening scene sets the landscape using a cold and white forestry local, and harbors the tensely wound pacing to follow. The ensemble is spot on, with strong performances from Durand, Haas and Bianca Kajich (of CBS’s Rules of Engagement and NBC’s Undateable). The writing, cinematography and acting are the strong points, but those alone cannot carry a movie to greatness.
Director Jack Heller employs the ‘less is better’ method of presenting the creature. By using darkness and shadows, he has viewers trying to decipher what the heck is haunting these townsfolk. Eventually though, this gets old and the final unveiling does not hold up to the excellent tension crescendo which the film is built upon. The ending is not terrible by any means, but it detracts from the first two acts.
By the finale of the movie, you will have either taken pleasure or disdain for Dark Was the Night. Don’t expect a gore-fest, though the blood does splatter at points. If you enjoy slow-burn horror, creature features and seeing characters develop and undergo plights, then give this one a shot. Looking deeper in the film you can find themes and tropes alluding to environmentalism, religion and Native American folklore. This isn’t the best modern horror film by any means, but it is one that can fulfill one’s late-night palate.
Video and Audio:
Dark Was the Night is presented in 2:40: widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The grey tinge the film has stands out, along with the back and forth from light to dark as the scenes change. The audio is well heard and the sounds do not overpower the dialogue, but in the special features lacks in clarity quality.
There are two features on the DVD, one being a behind the scenes look at Dark Was the Night, and the other a Q&A session from Screamfest. The behind the scenes look is interesting, hearing the creators and actors talk for a bit, but it is short— seven minutes. Also running short is the Screamfest Q&A, clocking in at eight minutes. This is terrible, as you cannot hear what hell is being said for the first half of it. Why even include this? Sloppy and disappointing.