And Soon the Darkness
by Jef Burnham
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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Amber Heard (Pineapple Express) and Odette Yustman (Cloverfield) star in this remake of the 1970 thriller of the same name. In director Marcos Efron’s adaptation, Heard and Yustman play two friends on vacation in Argentina who purposely separate from their tour group and end up kidnapped by locals. The original British film, directed by Robert Fuest (The Abominable Dr. Phibes) and written by Brian Clemens (TV’s The Avengers) and the creator of Doctor Who’s arch-nemeses the Daleks, Terry Nation, was a quiet, yet immensely scary mystery set against the unlikely backdrop of the beautiful French countryside. While this remake remains true to some of the original’s essential plot points, the filmmakers have made countless deviations narratively and stylistically— none of which benefit the overall viewing experience.
For the 2010 update, Clemens and Nation’s original screenplay has been deprived of all its mystery in favor of transparent horror clichés. Whereas the 1970 film presented a terrifying scenario in which a single tiff finds one of a pair of female friends alone in the woods with a sinister stalker, Efron’s adaptation painfully delays the friends’ disastrous venture into the woods with a series of superfluous conventions. The slutty girl must pick up the wrong guy in the bar and be saved by the prospective hero (played by Karl Urban (Star Trek)), and unplugged alarm clocks must lead to missed buses and unscheduled detours before anything important can happen. Rather than creating suspense as such conventions might when accompanied by well-developed characters, the result of their inclusion here is first disinterest and then aggravation.
Additionally, changing the setting to the imposing landscape of densely-forested Argentina makes the girls’ decision to strike out on their own an obviously crap idea from the outset. There is absolutely no question whatsoever that they are in for serious trouble. By contrast, the original’s French countryside setting is serene and open, and things are going rather well for our leading ladies until they part for but a few minutes, making the friend’s disappearance more realistic and all the more terrifying. This turn in the original film was decidedly Hitchcockian, leaving much of the film’s events to our imagination. However, nothing in the remake is left to the imagination. Everything is thoroughly explained and we are even shown who the kidnapper is during the kidnapping. Ultimately, And Soon the Darkness (2010) is but a tired, half-assed rehashing of the lampooning of the American superiority complex in Eli Roth’s Hostel and an incredibly tedious experience at that.
Special features include deleted scenes; commentary with Efron, editor Tod Miller and Director of Photography Gabriel Beristain; and a Director’s Video Diary featuring behind-the-scenes footage.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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