An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.
In the small sleepy town of Maiden Woods in upstate New York, the citizens go about their daily business with nothing to fear. That is until one morning, the town wakes up and after a fresh blanket of snow the previous night, they are horrified and puzzled to find biped hoof prints tracing the landscape. In the beginning, everyone assumes it’s a prank but when local wildlife begins disappearing and two neighborhood hunters are found dead in the nearby forest, thirty feet up a tree, uneasiness begins to permeate throughout the town. Initially skeptical of old stories and legends that tell of an ancient creature that has lived deep in the woods for centuries, the town quickly embraces those tales while Sheriff Paul Shields (Kevin Durand) tries to alleviate their fears and promises to find the responsible culprits.
Having recently lost a child, Paul is separated from his wife Susan (Bianca Kajlich) as he feels responsible for his son’s accidental drowning and while he spends the beginning of the film in a hazy depression, he quickly snaps out of it when he begins seeing shadows and shapes that he cannot explain. Unwilling to believe in the local legends about hoofed creatures, even at the behest of his trusty deputy Donny (Lukas Haas), he is at home with his young son Adam (Ethan Khusidman) when the power goes out and ‘something’ comes after them. After their harrowing experience and having barely escaped, Paul finally realizes that whatever it was that broke into his house and attacked them, was not human. He informs the locals to meet at the town church where he reveals to all of them what happened at his home.
He advises everyone to stay in the church for the night because in the morning they will be greeted by the National Guard but no sooner has he given his speech than the front doors are being pounded on. Paul moves everyone into the basement and locks them inside while he and Donny make their way back upstairs coupled with machine guns, rifles and handguns, everything at their disposal in order to protect each person behind the basement door. “Dark Was The Night” takes you back to an era of filmmaking when the compulsory elements required for a suspenseful movie, were gradually infused, allowing time for character development and story exposition. Many of today’s filmmakers could take a page out of director Jack Heller’s book as so many of them are in too much of a hurry to tell their story, they don’t realize in order to create an authentic story, you first need credible characters and a convincing narrative.
Kevin Durand is an actor known primarily for his bad guy roles, including “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones” and “Smokin’ Aces” but here, he proves that he has the necessary deftness needed for the role of a grieving father, suffering from misplaced guilt. The movie carefully balances the lamentable aspect of the story and when his wife and young son are threatened, his ass-kicking persona takes over and the film essentially comes to life. I remember Lukas Haas giving an exemplary performance in “Witness” with Harrison Ford back in 1985 but honestly, I’ve only seen him in a couple of different projects over the years, nothing that really grabbed my attention and sadly, the same applies here, his character is given nothing to do except frown and look concerned. This small critique aside however, “Dark Was The Night” is a solid and well-photographed horror film that is much better than it has a right to be.
Available on DVD September 1st
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com