Three friends try to cope after one of them is bullied. Their lives are slowly torn apart as they fall deeper into a twisted web of buried secrets, ignorance, and revenge. It turns out no one is truly innocent...
The Creature Feature, DARK WAS THE NIGHT, centers around small town Sheriff Paul Shields, who has hit a rough patch in his life. Following the drowning death of their son, Paul and his wife Susan are now separated, and trade off custody of their surviving son, Adam. Blaming himself for the drowning incident, the events have collectively shaken him, and have somewhat distracted him from doing his everyday job in the way that he should. However, things soon take a surprising turn when his small town of Maiden Woods is rocked by a series of strange deaths, and disappearances that put the town on high alert. With occurrences such as missing horses and livestock, and bodies, carcases found, ripped limb from limb, the culprit leaves behind hoofed footprints, and bloodied claw marks on trees, that leave both Paul, and the townsfolk of Maiden Woods baffled. While both Paul and his partner Donny Sanders, a transplant from the big city of New York, initially believe that some kind of animal is responsible, the townspeople have other ideas, however. Some say that it's the work of some sort of demon, while other believe it to be some sort of entity from ancient Indian folklore, and it eventually becomes clear that the latter theory could be closer to the truth than it would seem. In his investigation, and with each new disturbance, Paul becomes more and more closer to solving the mystery of the creature, which in the end, would put both he, his family, and his town, which he swore to protect, in danger. In the end, in the midsts of a snow storm, Paul and the townsfolk, whom remain in Maiden Woods, must barricade themselves within the local church, And it is here, where Paul must muster up the courage to protect his own as he must face off with a creature from which myths are made.
On the surface, this Creature Feature, directed by Jack Heller has the makings of your typical film of the type. It even offers up the typical set up of the troubled character, whom overcomes some kind of life troubles to come out as the courageous figure in the end. So with this, I went into DARK WAS THE NIGHT with only moderate expectations, I mean, we see a number of these kinds of films churned out all of the time(especially by the likes of the SYFY CHANNEL), so would this be the same? Or would it have something that would make it better than your average Creature Feature? With so many like-minded efforts so readily available, these are some od the questions that I had in mind, before heading in.
As it would turn out, the answer would be that, yes, it is one of these films in its most basic of elements, but at the same time, it is somewhat above the most typical fare. While the storyline, is most similar(yes, an unseen creature killing both animals and humans), both its story development, and acting are a notch above the average. DARK WAS THE NIGHT is a film that presents a story that is well told, with characters that we come to care about over time, via a strong script, which builds them up. When it comes to this type of feature, the acting is also something which tends to be very suspect at times. It can range from great, to hokey. It's like that box of chocolates - you just never know what you're gonna get. But luckily for us, and the film, DARK WAS THE NIGHT features acting from its principal stars, and some of their supporters that eventually elevate the characters beyond typicals.
The film's star Kevin Durand, with his expressive features and likable demeanor creates a troubled man in Sheriff Shields, however leaves enough of hints of the past, to clue us in on the man that he truly is, and wishes to be. The same can be said about Bianca Kaijlick, who is Susan, Paul's estand wife, Susan, whom obviously truly loves him. The two of them work well here and create an on screen relationship that connects with the viewer. Also to be enjoyed here, is the performance by young veteran Actor, Lukas Haas, as Paul's new partner, Donny. Like Shields Donny, has also had a trauma in his life, and to escape, has moved from the city, to the small town of Maiden Woods in order to get away. The two characters come to appreciate one another by how much they can relate, as they become another likable pairing within the film.
So next comes the big question that most will have when they contemplate whether they should see this film. What about the creature, and how does it hold up? The answer is, that for most of the film, the creature aspect is handled very well, in that much like a classic, such as JAWS, or the William Gridler drive-in, bear classic, GRIZZLY, we view the creature only in brief shots, or we see events, only in its point-of-view. In turn, as this approach has worked many times before, it is effective in creating an environment, an atmosphere for DARK WAS THE NIGHT that is eerily creepy and haunting. While some might complain that we initially don't see enough of the creature, I actually preferred this. So when in the last act, we begin to see more and more of the creature, eventually arriving face-to-face with it, head-on, I felt that the film lost some of it's charm at that point. The film was obviously shot on a rather moderate budget, and so using the imagery sparingly, actually better benefited the film for the better, I thought. Seeing, a leg here, or a claw there was just fine. But when the creature gets out into the open in all of it's glory, the CGI created monster, unfortunately reminds us just how moderate the budget was. Seeing the creature in this manner. causes it to lose it's shine, which is indeed a downer. Yes, I do know that this was indeed inevitable in terms of story, it had to be done. But it's just a bummer, as in the end, much of the "cool factor" that was there, is lost due to CGI that is just a little bit too difficult to believe at that point.
At the end it's as if DARK WAS THE NIGHT, does become one of "those" typical Creature Features that I had previously referred to, sort of polarizing all of the good things about the film. The end result is a film that, while uneven, is still very much enjoyable overall.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I said above, overall, I enjoyed DARK WAS THE NIGHT. I enjoyed the performances from the cast, the setting and atmosphere, as well as the film's initial approach of its creature. But as noted, I felt that the latter half fell a little flat as the film conformed to the norms of the most typical of creature Features. Again, I do under stand why it went by way of the avenue it did, but I just wish that they could have done something a little different. Something that we haven't seen before. But it is what it is, and it isn't that bad.
This film will be released in theaters, and on Video on Demand on July 24, 2015