Tuesday, June 02, 2015

From the Dark – review

Director: Conor McMahon

Release date: 2014

Contains spoilers

Why this Irish offering hasn’t (at time of review) seen a wider release yet is beyond me as whilst it is simple in construct it is also a taut, tense little film.

I did see somewhere a questioning as to whether the creature (Ged Murray) involved was actually a vampire. Let’s see, sharp teeth and talons, infects those it bites, photosensitive and appeared to have been staked in its grave and comes round when it's removed. Sounds pretty darn vampire to me (though one of those traits go further than one would imagine). This is, however, a creature and not a suave, tuxedo’d Eastern European gentleman.

in the earth
It starts with peat farming. The farmer (Gerry O'Brien) is working away until he hits something. His spade has hit some wood that he tugs out of the peat and we se it is somewhat stake like. He digs around uncovering hands (with impressively long nails) that are tied together. It essentially looks like a bog body. The farmer moves away (night is beginning to encroach and he is going to his tractor to get a torch) but we see the peat shift. When he returns the body is gone. He is attacked and pulled into a pool of water. Once he gets out we see that his neck has been bitten.

Mark and Sarah
Mark (Stephen Cromwell) is driving himself and his girlfriend Sarah (Niamh Algar) to a country getaway. I liked the dialogue and acting as the two bickered in a totally natural way. Needless to say that they get turned around (as the sat nav complains) and end up lost. Worse still the car hits a muddy pothole and gets stuck. Mark leaves Sarah with the car and goes to get help as the sun sets. He eventually finds a farmhouse but the place seems deserted until the farmer returns. The man seems in shock and, having got him to hold a towel to his neck, Mark goes back for Sarah.

stay in the light
Sarah, out in the lane, is getting a bit jumpy (and we see that something is out in the darkness). However Mark appears and takes her back to the farmhouse so they can help the farmer. When they get there he is missing and many of the lights are smashed. Using torch and mobile phones (signals are dead – as they would have to be) they search and the farmer attacks them. We see that the light from the torch seems to sear him and he jumps from the window. After that we get the two trying to get back to the car but getting turned around and attacked by the creature. By the time they take refuge back in the farmhouse Mark’s leg has been torn open by the nasty talons and Sarah works out that the creatures are scared of the light.

the vampire (in the dark)
The light has two effects, firstly it buggers up the infected’s sensitive vision but, more importantly, too much exposure will cause them to calcify and turn to dust. So we get the vampires smashing light sources and skirting around pools of light as the couple try to maintain the light. Often I complain about not being able to see much in dark shots but in this the balance was right and was needed to build the atmosphere as it really was a less is more film – we see little of the creature. The set up made for a nice line in tenseness and though perhaps they, as characters, made silly choices occasionally (which is absolutely necessary for the film, of course) the film was enjoyable.

a shape in the distance
I was particularly taken by Niamh Algar who emoted well both through dialogue and expression. The fact that the film was pulled off with just four actors (one being a partially glimpsed creature) was to the film’s credit. I am also liking what I’m seeing from Conor McMahon as I was also impressed with his (non-vampire) clown horror Stitches. The photography of the Irish countryside (when we see daytime shots) was really rather beautiful.

All in all, a film worth your attention. 7 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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