And Soon The Darkness
by Del Harvey
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Thanks to films such as “Saw” and “Hostel” we are seeing an increase in the capture-slasher type of horror films these days. You know, the type of horror film that plays upon our deepest fears. Of these, there have been a number of truly outstanding films; the French film “Ils” (Them), the Spanish “El Rey de la Montana,” and Australia’s “Wolf Creek,” come to mind. But in film, with success comes many imitators, and most of them aren’t that great. For the first five minutes I thought “And Soon The Darkness” would be one of those, but I was very happy to be proved wrong.
The story - Two young American girls, Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman), are on a leisure cycling trip through Argentina. The bike trip takes a frightening turn for Stephanie when wild child Ellie disappears. Stephanie desperately searches for her friend, and she is soon joined by Michael (Karl Urban), a young man claiming to be a detective, who is currently working on an unsolved murder that was committed seven months earlier.
But this film relies upon fear, and that means presenting things we know to be true or trustworthy from daily routine and then yanking that stable foundation out from under us by showing us things are not always what they seem. Giving hope and yanking it away are the staples of the best horror films, and this one does just that. It helps that the characters have been given realistic back stories, so that they feel authentic, and that just serves to heighten our fear when one shows they have a much deeper, darker side.
And that first five minutes I spoke of at the beginning of the film? The two girls are lovely to look at, of course, and situations were created which suggested an opportunity for T&A, a sure sign that the story is weak if it’s relying upon skin to salvage the film. But the filmmakers chose not to take it in that direction, instead depending upon character and story, and the result is a very strong horror film which will keep you guessing.
“And Soon The Darkness” is currently in limited theatrical release and will release on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 28th, 2010.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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