Sunday, October 18, 2015

Film Review: From The Dark (2014)

From The Dark (Review)
Ireland/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
*A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!

"The direction works well in conjuring visual, audio, and atmospheric frights."


A couple on a romantic getaway find themselves hunted by a creature lurking in the dark...

From The Dark starts a bit rough. The film follows Sarah (Niamh Algar) and Mark (Stephen Cromwell) on their romantic getaway in the Irish countryside. The pair discuss their opposing viewpoints on marriage, then become stranded on a muddied path. As night approaches, the couple stumble upon a large countryside house... with a man bleeding from a wound on his neck inside. As they try to aid the ailing man, the pair find themselves hunted by creatures afraid of the night – vampires. The rest of the film is essentially a game of cat-and-mouse, where the humans try outsmart and outwit the vampires. The film leads to a decent ending.

From The Dark is a good film. I didn't like the introduction — it was far too cliché for me — but the rest of the narrative was simple yet effective. The couple basically find themselves trapped in a huge house with limited light sources and a fast predator. Thanks to the direction, there's some moderate suspense here and some eerie imagery – there's even some chilling visuals for those with arachnophobia out there. I especially enjoyed the use of subtle frights. You know, the subtle, creepy movements in the backgrounds — I love that. The slow-burn really pays off during most of the film, as well. However, although the moderate pacing works during most of the film, it does begin to dwindle towards the end. It feels like it loses a lot of its steam before the finale.

The acting was also good. Niamh Algar does well in conveying emotion without overacting. Stephen Cromwell isn't half-bad, either. The characters are generic and one-dimensional, but the performances were better than expected. The film looks decent. It's mostly in the dark — it's called From The Dark after all — but you can actually see most of the scenes! It's not as bad as The Beast of Xmoor or The Woman in Black 2 where you have to squint or wear night-vision goggles to see – I don't think the latter would work. The soundtrack is decent — it has its moments, but it often stuck out as a little ill-fitted. Director Conor McMahon, who also directed Stitches, knows how to craft his frights. The writing is really what leaves much to be desired, especially in regards to characters and plot contrivances.

Overall, From The Dark is a good horror film. The story suffers from a weak introduction and generic characters, as well as a dwindling finale, but the bulk of the film perseveres through its narrative flaws. The direction works well in conjuring visual, audio, and atmospheric frights. For the most part, the film also works well with its slow-burn pace. If the writing were better, this film would've been great. As it is, the film is simply good. I'd recommend a stream on Netflix or a cheap rental; a purchase if you're a fan of vampires.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and gore.

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