I find very few ghost or haunted house stories worthwhile, but Dark Vision proved to intrigue me a bit and actually ended up entertaining me more than I had anticipated. The film begins by laying out that Dark Vision is basically a television challenge where five teams, four of which we never see or hear about, are competing against each other for a chance to win their own show. The team the film follows is headed by Spencer Knights (Hodges) and his crew, as they spend a night in “Britain’s most haunted building,” Baylock’s Folly.
When they get to the location, it quickly becomes clear that Knights has made up the story and has set up the location with a grand assortment of tricks and illusions to screw with the crew, and audience, in order to get more views. As Knights feeds the audience his story, the location's caretaker, Clem (Haley), takes it upon herself to tell them an even scarier story that eventually proves to be true. At first, the crew thinks little of the story, but as the night continues, each character slowly becomes aware of how real their situation actually is, but, by then, it is too late.
The actors do a good job filling their roles and becoming these characters, but with Knights and Clem leading the charge, the simple story gains some weight and becomes a bit more compelling. Without a doubt, Clem is the film's biggest asset, as she is both terrifying and hilariously over the top in all the best ways. Presented in a split between stationary and handheld shots, the film finds a nice mix in presentation that helps you feel like you are a part of their audience, while giving enough behind the scenes footage to help flesh out the characters.
The only thing that really hinders the film, besides the lesser effects, which are hard to avoid with lower budget films, is when it decides to hit old horror clichés instead of all-out originality. On these few occasions, the film’s good stride stumbles a bit, causing it to feel campy and familiar. Luckily, this only happens a couple of times and the film isn’t too hurt from it. Ultimately, the biggest surprise the film offers is how surprisingly well its House on Haunted Hill vibe mixes with the ghost hunter-esque show they are trying to emulate. Together, the two mash up into a well-crafted and executed film that suspense and horror fans will enjoy.
Review by Andy Comer
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