Starring Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Markovics, Sarah Murphy-Dyson. Directed by Justin P. Lange. (2018/95 min).
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Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀
Having just suffered through Hell Fest and The Nun, maybe I'm being overly generous in my assessment of The Dark, but compared to those two dumpster fires, this humble little horror flick was a breath of fresh air.
While not exactly groundbreaking - or particularly scary - The Dark may lack flash, cash and panache, but it's suitably grim and full of emotional surprises. Writer-director Justin P. Lange also appears to know that horror isn't always found in jump-scares and buckets of blood. In fact, despite the story's undead main character, The Dark's most disturbing moments are grounded in reality.
Explaining the basic plot is difficult without providing significant spoilers, but I will say that the backstory of the two main characters - both children - involves severe physical and sexual abuse. These moments are handled tastefully, but are devastating nonetheless, and as-it-happens necessary. The strong emotional bond between Mina (Nadia Alexander) and Alex (Toby Nichols) stems from the empathy she develops after saving him from his abductor. In the process, she becomes his de-facto guardian and begins to regain some of the humanity she lost when she died years before.
|Emos go camping.|
Though not a traditional horror film, The Dark is still plenty horrific. Alex wasn't merely kidnapped; his eyes have been torn out, and judging from the scars and lingering symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome, he'd been missing for quite a long time before Mina kills - and eats - his abductor. Mina herself is (sort-of) a zombie, animal-like, violent and willing to kill anyone who ventures into the woods, as demonstrated when they come-across a few unfortunate adults in the cast.
Still, there's a sweetness to these kids' friendship that's engaging, despite the rest of the film's unnerving elements. Because of this,The Dark achieves a poignancy atypical of the genre. It's refreshing to occasionally take in a horror film with characters we actually care about, even if their behavior is often monstrous. A nice change of pace from some of the other mallrat mayhem I've endured lately.
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS.