Devil In The Dark (2017)
Running time: 82 minutes
Director: Tim Brown
Cast: Dan Payne, Robin Dunne, Briana Buckmaster, Daniel Cudmore
Available on VOD nationwide in the U.S. from Momentum Pictures on Tuesday, March 7th
Devil in the Dark is the second directorial offering from Tim Brown. It is a film teetering somewhere in between thriller and horror and interestingly, was originally entitled (the more thriller sounding) “The Plateau’.
Opening with a short but atmospheric prologue, the start of the film is pure horror. Night has fallen and a young boy is lost in the middle of the woods. His father and older brother frantically search for him, finally finding him in the midst of a clearing (in a striking red jacket reminiscent of ‘Don’t Look Now’). He is frozen to the spot and transfixed on something out in the darkness.
Cut forward thirty years and the film weaves down a more psychological thriller route. We meet the brothers again, they are now grown men and lead very different lives. Adam (the lost child in red) has moved away from home and lives a successful city life, whilst older both Clint has remained at home, settled down and cared for their now deceased father. The two are chalk and cheese, so when Adam returns to see his brother and take a hunting trip with him, it’s clear it’s not going to be an easy few days.
The awkward tension between the brothers is palpable from the outset and is further demonstrated by well placed flashbacks to their childhood. It becomes clear that Adam thinks their father favoured Clint and their relationship suffered accordingly. Before the men set off on their hunting trip, we also realise that Adam suffers from disturbing nightmares, reminiscent of the opening childhood scene. Whilst these visions are hauntingly presented, they are all too brief, leaving you wish they had been explored further.
It is only once the brothers set out on their trip that the true horror of the film finally sets in. As the pair struggle with their inner demons, they discover a bone infested lair inhabited by a dark being that threatens their lives. Their terror and the anticipation of the danger they face is well presented and you are drawn inside their fear. The vision of the demon itself is wisely kept to a minimum, but is strikingly created and impressive when it briefly does reveal itself.
There is no doubting the production value of Devil in the Dark, both the Director (Brown) and Writer (Carey Dickson) have a host of production credits behind them and it shows. The film looks slick and there are some magnificent shots that make the most of the great locations used for filming. The performances are also universally strong, with Dunne (as Adam) and Payne (as Clint) particularly scoring on the edgy sibling relationship front.
However, given all these positives, it still feels like there is something uneven about the film. The horror pay off doesn’t arrive until about three quarters of the way through and the wait seems far too long. Adam’s dreams aren’t enough to tide you over and the film hovers in this psychological drama territory, with no real fear or anticipation to tease you.
With the most entertaining and memorable moments happening in the latter stages, you’re left feeling that the end of the film would have made a great start to the third act. Frustratingly it felt like the film had hits its stride just as it was ending. Although it is an accomplished film with many good qualities, it never quite flies in the way that it should. When the horror hits, it is truly engaging, it just all feels rather too little, too late.
5 out of 10