What is it all about?
A couple and their daughter moves to Colombia to take over a family manufacturing plant, only to realize their new home is haunted.
The Hughes Verdict!
Its been a bad week for me personally when it comes to watching films that feature “things that go bump in the night”. Having sat through the ghastly offering of Insidious Part 3, which, despite a promising start, soon became tedious and dull with a final shot that truly made the franchise jump the shark! The next day it was the new Poltergeist, which despite a few nice changes to the original story, by the time the end credits rolled, I had the same feeling like I do with most of the other remakes – total pointless.
Then along came Out Of The Dark, that arrived to buy or rent on DVD/blu-ray this week and when I sat down to watch this tale, maybe I was in the wrong frame of mind to go through yet another spooky tale and should have passed it on to one of my fellow HCF colleagues, because despite a strong cast, this done nothing for me and I was clock watching not long after the half hour mark.
The film centres on young couple Sarah (Julia Stiles) and Paul (Scott Speedman), who along with their little girl Hannah (Pixie Davies) move to a village in South America where Sarah has taken a job in her dad’s Paper Mill business, and Paul stays at home working as an illustrator. The always reliable Stephen Rea plays the father, who is hardly used in this tale which for hardened fans of the genre will know from the off that because of this he will somehow play a pivotal part as the film moves onto the latter stages.
The lovely vast house they move into has a chequered history, which we see in a pre-credit sequence that hints of something paranormal killing a man, and soon the family themselves begin to believe that something is quite not right in their new dwellings, especially for poor little Hannah who is the victim of the most incidents of mayhem
The ghosts in particular are that of children with masked faces and the film hints that they could be linked to the village’s past, a 500 year old incident where back then conquistadors burned alive the children of the village and now the place is celebrating (if that is the right word) the annual Festival of the Saint’s Children, so if those poor innocent young souls are back, why are they targeting this family?
To be fair to Out Of The Dark, it hopes not to be that simple, but as the plot itself tries too much to be clever and twisty, it comes across such bland that all you get is a feeling of a run of the mill horror that you have seen in better films. The set-pieces themselves are not at all scary, with flashes of the dead in the room and hiding in bushes, while the little girl is teased until she falls mysterious ill, a sub plot at first that eventually pushes the end game into a different direction.
If I am being vague its because the film was just a tedious bore, with it more being a thriller than say a downright horror.. First time director Lluis Quilez fails to inject any pace into the running time, with the movie limping along from one soggy scene to the other, wasting the talent on show. I have got a lot of time for Julia Stiles, an actress who was the best thing in the much mangled season 5 of Dexter, but she has virtually nothing to do for the opening half, and when she is then hurried into the limelight, the mystery angle is a let down as the pieces virtually fall into her lap.
What is criminally wasted is the location. A young family moving into an unknown foreign place should work and the only scene that reaches that uncomfortable level is when on their first trip to the outdoor market, Hannah walks away from the side of her parents and for a few moments, Sarah and Paul can’t find her. Not knowing what direction the film was going to go, I expected perhaps Hannah to follow the ghostly figure and vanish into thin air and by thinking that and wondering just how Sarah and Paul would cope in a unknown place, for a brief second the film grabbed my attention. But when she is found and that one moment of tension is eased, the film just follows a familiar path and I was wondering why it was set in this country when the events that was taken place could have happened in any American Suburb.
The 2008 film Vinyan may not have won the heart of many horror fans, but the setting itself was rich full of unknown dread thanks to a foreign place where any normal viewer would have never set eyes on, so for Out Of The Dark to be so lacking in atmosphere, especially in the environment its set, is a total and utter waste.
By the time we get to the finale and the revelations come to the fore, you may have given up caring, the film limping to the finish line without any thrill or spill. I may sound harsh but there is nothing new on show here, just the same old clichés that we have seen thousands of times and having sat through it you probably instantly forget it.
Out Of The Dark is a film newcomers to the horror genre may be mildly enthralled by, but for die hard fans, you have probably seen more scary episodes of Goosebumps.