“Dark Was the Night” is an interesting movie that follows all of the rules of the classic monster formula’s. Unfortunately, the film is a bit uneven and falls a bit short when it’s final reveal is brought to light.
It’s an age old formula; never show your monster. “Dark” follows this rule very well. We spend a good chunk of this movie only seeing the slightest of hints of what is stalking the small town of Maiden Woods. There are mysterious footprints found about town. There are traces of animal attacks on the local livestock. There are words of worry from local hunters who say that all of the local wildlife has fled the vicinity. There are even those brief moments that we catch just a glimpse of whatever it is that is stalking the town.
All of these moments combine to make for a good dose of tension as we see Sheriff Sheilds and Deputy Saunders try and unravel it all. They also dole out the mystery in good pace throughout the film, leaving we the viewer wondering just what we’re up against. There are hints, but not actual definition, of what might be out there. Unfortunately, it all falls a bit flat in the end once the true form of Maiden Wood’s Menace is fully revealed. Perhaps it’s a matter of personal taste, but once we see what is hunting the towns folk, it makes all of the previous hour plus of tension building fall a bit flat. The creature design is simply not very good. That’s not the only thing holding “Dark Was the Night” back.
For this film, we get to see Kevin Durand take on a rare leading role, that he does pretty well with, yet falls a bit short of great. He shows that he has the chops, though his performance is a bit uneven. Little things like how his accent changes halfway through the movie really stands out. Other actors working around him, such as Lucas Haas do well. There just isn’t a lot of meat for them to work with in the script. Even genre regular Nick Damici makes an appearance, but is unfortunately rather under used.
Other than a few inconsistencies, this isn’t really a fault of the performances though. The script has some weak spots that they’ve tried to add in to give our characters depth and a way for us to connect with them; they just do not add anything to the overall story. Sheriff Shields has a rough past, which leads to a strained marriage and a son that spends time hopping back and forth between mom and dad. On it’s own, it’s not a bad sub plot. The things that happen to the Shields family is bad and makes for some decent drama. It just adds nothing to the story of whatever is haunting the woods around Maiden Woods. This leaves the film feeling a bit over long and leaves us viewers, wondering when they’re just going to get on with it.
That said, this isn’t a bad film and is worth a watch. The tension and mystery are solid for the first two acts of the film, and only fall short in the final ten minutes or so. And again, it’s not enough of a down turn to ruin the entire movie, but makes it feel merely all right as opposed to great.
Also, kudo’s for a quick Steve Agee sighting!