Spencer Knights (Bernie Hodges) and his camera crew head to a supposedly haunted castle with a minor celebrity to film a Most Haunted style ghost hunting show, called Mind-Full, that is playing against other similar shows in a competition on a website called Dark Vision that will allow the winner to become a fully fledged series. The castle is supposedly built on an old plague pit and is haunted by the ghost of a murderous Doctor. Their attempt at scaring the audience all becomes a little too real as the Doctor pays them a visit.
The plot of Dark Vision twists itself a little too far. What should essentially be a fairly straightforward found footage/haunted building story tries to add this extra dimension with the Dark Vision website, which in part feels little like it’s only there to justify the title. The team could just as easily be heading to the castle to film without the need of the website based competition. It seems like the writers have added it to try and pull the film away from just being a straight up haunted house film and it doesn’t really work. The problem is with the consistent logic of the competition and the viewing. You’re led to believe that all the footage is being streamed and put up on the site for viewers to, apparently, simultaneously watch several shows and vote as they progress, but this would mean that the viewers would see that Knights is attempting to set up some fake ghostly shenanigans so that he wins the competition. If they aren’t being live broadcast then why does the film pause every so often to give you an update of who has been voted out and who is left? This may seem like a small point in the grand scheme of the film but when a message pops up every so often to give you an update you are left wondering how the system works, thereby highlighting the whole problem of it. The film then also tries to tack on a twist with the website that isn’t exactly original and still doesn’t justify the interruptions.
Outside of this everything else is fairly competent. The acting is all fair, nobody’s going to win any Oscars soon but neither does any poor acting take you out of the film. Bernie Hodges as Spencer Knights is fun; he is a less unhinged Dereck Acorah with a dash of hypnotising Derren Brown and his arrogance is fun but never dislikeable. Suzie Latham as camerawoman Jo and Oliver Park as technician Xan are both good with a nice bit of sub-character drama of professional jealousy and failure. The handheld conceit holds up fine as they take the The Borderlands route of having a reason for having cameras strapped to themselves and to the walls, though The Borderlands is a far superior film, even if the filmmakers decided to add some screen fuzzes and cuts to make it seem like the equipment is faulty which is more annoying than anything else. The film did make me laugh a couple of times which was an unexpected pleasure and it also has a few serviceable jump scares if you don’t often watch horror films. The plague mask of the ghost is also inherently creepy so it was a good choice to use it as the face of the evil Doctor. The most credit has to go to the location scout as all the settings are genuinely good; the old castle looks craggy and foreboding and the underground catacombs look cold, isolating and expansive.
There is a bit of pleasure to be found in Dark Vision if you can try and put aside the troublesome plotting, and it is good enough to show that Darren Flaxstone has some potential as a filmmaker. Biggest praise goes to the location scout.