Director: Jack Heller
Cast: Kevin Durant, Lukas Haas, Bianca Kajlich, Nick Damici, Sabina Gadecki, Steve Agee, Heath Freeman
Screenplay: Tyler Hisel
90 mins. Not Rated.
I came across Dark Was the Night this evening while looking around on Hulu for something scary to watch. I had never heard of the film, but being a fan of Kevin Durant (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Noah), I had to give it a go.
Sheriff Paul Shields (Durant) awakens one morning to find what appear to be hoof prints moving all through his small town. What’s more disturbing is that they do not appear to match any animal on record and seem to be from a two-legged beast. Paul and his deputy Donny Saunders (Lukas Haas, Inception, The Revenant) to tackle the mystery of the hoof prints, but they do not have much time, as people in town are starting to go missing only to end up dead hanging 30 feet up in the trees of the nearby woods.
Dark Was the Night has a simple enough premise aided by a capable albeit slightly bloated screenplay from Tyler Hisel (Safari). I feel like 90 minutes was a little too lengthy for this film. A tighter 80 minute runtime would have made this thing just cruise.
The source material for the story is an old unsolved mystery known as the Devil’s Footprints back in 1855, in which similar strange footprints were found in a town in England. It’s an interesting place to take a film, and it mostly works.
Durant is the definite star here, an actor who rarely gets center stage. He does a fine job here as the haunted sheriff, a man with demons who is strong enough to do the job he was put on Earth to do. His scenes with Haas showcase two great buddy cop chemistry.
Outside of these two, I feel like many of the citizens of the town do not get fleshed out and kind of just morph together in an amorphous townsfolk. I would have liked to know more about who they are and how this mystery affects them.
My only other major fault is the visual effects. An easy lesson here is if you don’t have the budget for high-end CGI, then utilize lighting. When the “thing” Shields is hunting for is uncovered, it is obvious not-so-great CG. Not terrible, but ineffective.
Dark Was the Night has some classic low-budget horror faults, but its unique mystery and some solid acting from its leads make for an experience worth having. An imperfect film it is, but one I think is worth the risk.
-Kyle A. Goethe
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