When a group of young people camping in the ruins of a medieval Turkish town play a party game called urder in the Dark,they soon discover that someone is taking the game too farProduced in an experimental shooting style, this murder-mystery features a cast of actors who were not allowed to see the script. The actorschoices interactively changed the shape of the story. They had to use clues to solve the mystery laid out before them by the filmmakers.
In the film MURDER IN THE DARK, a group of backpackers of a variety of nationalities are chaperoned on a trip in Turkey, which they plan to camp within a sight of medieval ruins. When they arrive, and as night falls, one camper suggest that the group play a murder mystery game called "Murder in the Dark". In the game, one person is marked as the killer. The players go around shaking each others hands, as they try to uncover the killer's identity, and avoid being killed. The game is innocent fun, shortly before the campers retire to their beds, but little did they know that when they woke, that someone would make their game of "Murder in the Dark", a grim reality. As campers begin to fall one by one, those who remain are left to solve the mystery behind the real killer, as well as hope that they survive.
MURDER IN THE DARK from Director Dagen Merrill, is a film that brings with it a gimmick. And just like any film with a gimmick, you are left to wonder if it is authentic and real. And what is MURDER IN THE DARK's gimmick, you ask? Well, it's said that the actors in the film, where at no time given a script. Therefore, they had no idea how the plot developed, or what would ultimately occur in the end. Supposedly they knew nothing of this aside from a few details regarding their individual characters, and what they know about their characters, none of the others actors would know, thus creating a level of spontaneity, and a natural reaction. Furthermore, the way the actors responded to plot developments, and their actions would effected where the plot would go. So what you have here is essentially a live action, interactive role playing game. Well, that's what the filmmakers are going for here. However, the thing about film gimmicks such as this one, is that we never know how much of it was reality. Sure, the makers of MURDER IN THE DARK can tell us that most of this film was improvised by the cast. But as viewers, whom were not on set while they were shooting, how do we know that this isn't some kind of gimmick conjured up just get more exposure for the film? The answer is, that we don't. So going into MURDER IN THE DARK, I must say that I was pretty skeptical to say the least.
The 2 thoughts that were in my mind as I went into MURDER IN THE DARK was, in reality, was this just some big sham, or if it were true, and that it was mostly improvised, would the end result be a film that at least made some sense? Well the truth is, if it was improvised, everyone here did a hell of a nice job keeping a coherent story together. Had I not known about the gimmick beforehand, I would have just thought that MURDER IN THE DARK was any other scripted Horror film. Everything goes together so well here that I have come to the personal conclusion that I don't exactly believe that most of the film was made up on the spot by the film's actors. I just don't believe it entirely. While, I could see that this could have indeed been the case for certain scenes, I just have a difficult time believing that the Director didn't kind of steer the actors in the right direction at some point during filming. I'm not saying that it didn't happen, but I just don't believe that the Director didn't have a bigger hand here.
However, with all of this said, for some reason MURDER IN THE DARK kept my attention. Perhaps having the idea of its gimmick in the back of my mind, is what kept my interest - this, and the mystery regarding the killer. It's this mystery that keeps you watching, you just never really know where things will go. And while it is unfortunate, that the conclusion that the film chooses, is one that we have seen before countless times, it's still kind of fun getting there.
The cast in the film are made up of actors that I had never heard of before(at least yet anyway), but personally, I thought that they were all good to an extent. They all played off of one another well, as their characters were in the thick of things, and often times turning on each other. As for standouts, i'd have to single out Phil Austin(as "Matthew), Luke Arnold(as "Kevin"), Samrat Chakrabarti(as "Ajay"), Mary Kate Wiles(as "Taylor"). Wiles is especially good, because at one point I was really sympathetic for her character.
This Horror film is being described as "experimental". And if it was indeed an experiment, and the cast did in fact "act as they went along", I have to give them credit, because admittedly, they fooled me. But right down to it, although this film is fairly enjoyable for the most part, for what it is, in terms of its overall plot it really brings nothing new to the Horror table. But in terms of overall filming process, yes, maybe it is something new(if in fact what they say about filming, is indeed true). There is a brief "making of" after the film is over, and as the credits roll, but still I don't entirely believe it(but that's just me).
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
Overall, as I said, MURDER IN THE DARK, is a film that kept my attention. Maybe it was the overall mystery? Or maybe it was merely my curiosity regarding the supposed experimental style in which it was shot? I'm unsure. But what matters is that I kept watching. Nice setup, decent acting, and a nice level of mystery make MURDER IN THE DARK worth a watch. I just wish that the film had a better conclusion. One that we hadn't seen before.