Out of the Dark

"Good"

Out of the Dark Review


An unusual setting gives this low-key horror some added interest, stirring a whiff of issue-based drama into the otherwise under-developed plot. It's also photographed with considerable skill, generating its scary moments with careful filmmaking rather than cheap gimmicks, although there isn't a moment that doesn't feel familiar. Yes, Spanish director Lluis Quilez never saw a scary-movie cliche that he didn't like.

It's set in rural Colombia, where Sarah and Paul (Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman) have just arrived in Santa Clara, on the edge of the jungle, with their young daughter Hannah (Pixie Davies). Sarah has a new job at the paper factory owned by her father (Stephen Rea), while Paul works from home as an illustrator. And as they settle into their gorgeous new house in a lush neighbourhood, the community is preparing for its annual Saint Children Festival, commemorating a tragic event from the conquistador era. But it's something much more recent that seems to have sparked a malevolent force in the town, as everyone catches glimpses of swarms of face-covered children emerging from the rainforest. And it seems to be Hannah that they want.

Quilez indulges in all the usual atmospherics, including sudden thunderstorms and power cuts, a sinister dumbwaiter and even a ball bouncing ominously down the stairs. Even so, he resists ramping up the horror too much, making the film feel more like a mystery as Sarah and Paul investigate the strange goings on, learning dark secrets about the town's past. When someone mentions the "old paper mill" it's clearly going to feature later on. And this gives the movie an intriguing sense that perhaps not everything that's happening is supernatural. That said, the plot is so thin that it barely exists, held together by a hint of subtext and the grounded performances.

Both Stiles and Speedman play everything with utmost seriousness, even though their characters are only sketchily defined. Rea gives his usual combination of old world charm and shifty secrecy, but even he is only barely there. Aside from a nanny (Vanesa Tamayo), no one else really registers as a character at all. Instead, the film's real star is its setting, with its constantly changing weather and deep shadows. So it's a shame that the script doesn't use more of the cultural landscape, which is deployed for little more than ambience. This leaves the entire film feeling rather slight, never quite making anything of the corporate responsibility sub-themes that might have given a subtle thriller a meaty centre.



Out of the Dark

Facts and Figures

Genre: Horror/Suspense

Run time: 86 mins

Production compaines: Participant Media, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Dynamo, Apaches Entertainment, XYZ Films, Cactus Flower Producciones, Fast Producciones

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Lluis Quilez

Producer: Belen Atienza, Andres Calderon, Cristian Conti, Enrique Lopez Lavigne

Starring: as Sarah Harriman, as Paul Harriman, as Jordan, Alejandro Furth as Dr. Andres Contreras, Jr., Pixie Davies as Hannah Harriman, Guillermo Morales Vitola as Man at party

Contactmusic


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