Sunday, July 12, 2015

FROM THE DARK (2014)

FROM THE DARK (2014)
Label: Dark Sky Films
Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated 
Duration: 90 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director: Conor McMahon
Cast:  Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell, Gerry O’Brien


Irish horror movie From The Dark  (2014) comes by way director Connor McMahon who brought us the supernatural clown-slasher Stitches. The new one begin with an old Irish farmer (Gerry O'Brien) digging into a peat bog when he comes upon a strange object buried in the ground. It seems like a wooden casket of sorts, inside we can see a hand with ominously long claws on each finger. As the sun begins to set on the countryside whatever is buried beneath begins to stir and the farmer is attacked by the creature. The just barely glimpsed creature is nowhere to be found and the dazed farmer is left alone to stagger back to his farmhouse in a daze.

We are then introduced to a young couple from Dublin named Sarah (Niamh Algar) and Mark (Stephen Cromwell) who are on a road trip through the Irish countryside on a weekend getaway. During their travels they become stranded on a muddy stretch of road without cell reception. Sarah stays behind with the car while Mark journeys forward on foot to find the nearest home, which he finds. At first no one seems to be home but Mark enters anyway, hoping to find a phone, which he doesn't. What he does find is the very same old farmer from the beginning of the movie with a strange wound on his neck. Mark returns to the car and explains that the farmer needs their assistance, returning with Sarah to the house the old man seems to have gone into hiding, and when they do find him they wished they'd hadn't. 


What we have here is an Irish take on the vampire film, the unearthed bloodsucker is primitive creature driven by feral-instinct and the craving for human blood. We don't get may lingering shots of the creature but from a distance we can see that it resembles the Nosferatu of yore, bald, clawed and cloaked, hands turned out at its side as it roams the countryside, a few of the shots are very creepy and more effective than the close-up action shots that are to come. 

Back at the farmhouse Mark and Sarah must contend with the old farmer who now thirsts for blood and the vampyric maker who lays siege to the farmhouse. While the vampires aren't given a lot of screentime considering the low-budget nature of the film that might be a good thing, whatever the reason may be the chilling glimpses and ominous tone of the movie make for some creepy good movie watching that is very simple in concept. The story is familiar and not new by any means, a couple go into the countryside, enter a dark house and are plagued by undead creatures our for their blood -- that is the beginning and end of the movie, there's just not much else to it my friends.

It's a lean movie that is deliberately paced and well executed with some good chills and a few adrenaline fueled thrills, but it does seem to struggle to maintain momentum during the final third -- despite some very nice acting from the duo of Niamh Alga and Stephen Cromwell who first sell us on the relationship of the young couple and them convince us of that the threat each of their characters experience is real, they seem absolutely terrified at times but we also buy the strength each is able to summon when their lives are on the line. 

The tension and claustrophobia is palpable throughout, it definitely brought to mind Neil Marshall's terrifying The Descent  (2005) at times, a film that this shares quite a bit. I said previously the concept is not at all original -- which it is not -- but is reasonably well executed, it just struggles to keep it fresh during the final stretch, which didn't ruin it for me but it did detract from my experience. 

From the Dark comes to Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films in 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) and looks pretty great. Shot on the Red Epic camera the darker scenes look fantastic maintaining some crisp detail and the action never disappears into the murk. The primary colors are earth tone in nature, a lot of shades of brown and plenty of darkness, so the color spectrum can be a bit dull but considering that was a choice on the part of the filmmaker this looks good. The English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio sounds fantastic, plenty of use of the surrounds as things go bump in the night, the creaking of a floor board, the screams off in the distance, and the labored breathing of the creatures are frightful. The sound design is nicely balanced with an eerie score to back up catastrophic visuals. Extras include a Commentary with writer-Director-Producer Conner McMahon, a 21-minute behind the scenes featurette and a trailer for the film. 

Special Features:
- Commentary with writer-Director-Producer Conner McMahon
- Behind-the-Scenes
- Trailer

From the Dark does not offer anything new to the horror fan, even the most casual horror fan will be very familiar with the set-up, but what it does it does well even if I thought it struggled to keep the momentum moving forward towards the end, but it is a scrappy good low-budget horror-thriller. 3/5


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