The Dark

The place to discuss FrightFest 2018 - Dates this year are 23 - 27th August.
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The Dark

Post by jonbly »

7/10 - some interesting ideas here, but it didn't go in the direction I'd have preferred and too much was left unexplained (for a change). In particular... why was Josef going to Devil's Den in the first place?
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Re: The Dark

Post by HeadOnAStick »

I don't think he was going there, he was just passing through and his nervous demeanour made the man assume he was going ghoul-tourism. When he gets lost he sees the sign and assumes it's a good place to lie low.
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Re: The Dark

Post by The Soapmaker »

I noticed a number of people walking out during the film, maybe they were just bored or hungry but I did think it was a bit more difficult and challenging than most horror films. Not because it was especially scary or gory, but it broke the rules a bit - very little was explained, people who didn't "deserve" to die got killed.

I liked it very much and found it quite moving. One of the best of the weekend for me.
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Re: The Dark

Post by leytonrocks »

HeadOnAStick wrote: Tue Aug 28, 2018 1:53 am I don't think he was going there, he was just passing through and his nervous demeanour made the man assume he was going ghoul-tourism. When he gets lost he sees the sign and assumes it's a good place to lie low.
The start of THE DARK is the end of most films as the net closes in on Josef - a child kidnapper on the run from the law and his mugshot on the TV in the gas station he’s gathering supplies.
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Re: The Dark

Post by gazadams »

not a bad film and well made
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Re: The Dark

Post by Seat@theBack »


A zombie teenage girl living alone in a patch of much-feared and avoided (by locals at least) haunted woods meets an abducted/ abused boy blinded by hate. They hide and scurry through the trees together - occasionally venturing into the darkness, but mostly staying invisible in the daylight. For they exist in an emotional dark, not in an existence that cares about light or shade, sleep or wake - or family (the worst). Snatches of music played in a decayed old bedroom in a house of horrors ravaged by years (we dont really know how many) in the middle of nowhere, or handfuls of sugary cereal spat out in disgust from the bitter taste of a zombie's taste buds offer few moments of brief normality and ridiculousness to a life led on the bloodied, abandoned edge of nowhere.

One of the strangest, damn coolest, FRIGHTFEST movies ever. Featuring outstanding casting in Nadia Alexander as Mina and Toby Nichols as Alex, this is no ordinary horror movie.

Alex's ordeal at the hands of his cruel human tormentor (who we see at the start of the film driving him deeper into the woods to do, well - who knows what else to, probably for one last time) is never fully revealed. His captor forever anonymous Possibly a stranger, maybe a family member. The calm acceptance of circumstance from this young actor is a central pin of the movie's heart-dissolving agenda. We never once have this trauma shattered with hysteria. Only when Alex faces losing his new found friend and guide - Mina - does the primal scream rise.

Mina watches the abandoned and broken boy's arrival from behind dusty windows in the house where she used to live. To survive the curse - or blessing - of returning to life, she can only exist on eating human flesh. Will Alex be next?

Nadia Alexander plays this survivor of death, abuse and improvised burial with hunched resignation and perma-poised threat; this lost and abandoned wild feral thing, tree-climbing or shadow dwelling in an abandoned home - a zombie emo with facial scars hidden under hoodie and jet black straggly hair.

As the movie progresses, Mina's wounds start to heal and the girl she once was returns from the dead and back to life for real - no longer in that state of limbo and fckd-up flux she had previously only been able to sulk and skulk and slay in. Is this the only way for a newly turned zombie to return to the living - through slow healing from a bestial state on finding a reason to live? Or is her friendship - and love - for Alex a catalyst for the scars (an allegory for self harm?) to be faded and rid of for good.

Sound - or lack of it - is everything in THE DARK. Even the woodland is hushed. There is little dialogue. Wildlife is silent and hiding from the creature that stalks this forbidden stretch (Mina - scaring away a loudly growling police dog at one point; a challenger to the landscape of submissive quiet - enforces the idea that even the animals now fear her).

There is no birdsong, and only a little rustling of leaves: the only sound that penetrates this enclosure of monsters and ghosts that creates such fear throughout the locals and all those who step within Mina's domain is the arrival of those seeking thrills in the most haunted of places, or those looking to find the missing boy and the monster that took him. And is that human monster a local man (but not that local, as he still needs a map!). And is the abduction, if not the scarring, still fresh? (Word seems to have spread to a few workers in the woods who seem to know who the boy is.)

The truth behind the boy's abduction is kept shrouded in mystery, but calls between Mina and someone we assume to be Alex's mother on his mobile phone - still fully charged - suggest the snatch wasn't that recent. Or does the calm, if tormented, nature of the voice at the end of the phone suggest some knowledge, resignation and even acceptance of the boy's fate? We never find out. The only backstory we follow will be Mina's.

This reveal of how Mina came to be the way she is, gets revealed to us in thick, occasional doses of flashback. The sound escalates as she becomes a victim of her mother's violent boyfriend's desires and panic - her demise a blast of true horror (and - in contrast to much of the rest of the film - taking place off screen: sound effects carrying the weight of the shock). The girl's subsequent attacks on the mostly innocent are less bashful and she is ok to axe and bite in broad daylight - to survive or protect as required. It's not long before Alex has also tasted first blood, and even Mina finds she can be shocked by what he does.

The film comes armed with occasional quiet humour amid the isolation and life-scarring fixing of these two young friends. When Mina first discovers Alex, he gets dressed (in the clothes she brings him) in the car boot and he asks her to look away, which she does - for a moment. The sequence with the ferocious police dog being scared off by Mina's growling back is another lighter moment, as is her trying out the marshmallow cereal meant for Alex - if only to briefly feel like a normal teenage girl again. But there is no laughter in the cinema at all. The Discovery Screen is as hushed as the woods.

There is nothing much to laugh about - even when something potentially funny happens. We have become as isolated watching all this as the two teenagers have become in the woods, alone - the past is never really forgotten and it is, for both Mina and Alex, always there (especially loud in the silence). Even in times when the sulkiness cracks and some playfulness creeps in there is always a sense of abandonment and hopelessness to bring them down. Their biggest - and only - hope of survival, becomes friendship.

And a rapid friendship does develop between the two - a cautious optimism allowed to creep in. At one point Mina even says to Alex that maybe, if they stay together, he could get his: "eyes fixed". Does he even know how badly his face - or Mina's - is destroyed for good? Wounds that will surely never heal?

The irony is: Mina's face is eventually 'fixed', and fixed first - her 'revival' begins when these two first meet, and is completed when they are lost to each other again (but both of them now have that chance of a better life and you hope - perhaps know - they are never going to be apart for too long (and that even - surely - there are more adventures to be had).

I fell in love the youthful desolation and awkwardness of The Dark. Celebrated the heart of this darkness and the meditation on friendship out of isolation it brought. Focusing on situations that seem unfaceable or desperate - the transformations and survival at the heart of this movie are truly inspiring (despite the use of that axe, or the eating of human flesh!). Which could be the whole point: the horror is always secondary to matters of the heart. This is not a horror film in traditional format. But like all good horror, it's also not afraid to unnerve,
shock, haunt or bite down where it hurts - when it wants to.

Within the barely rustling woodland shadows, or in the filtering through the leaves sunlight or sheltering gloom, is a force of love, friendship and light returning to a world where the unhealable can sometimes be stiched. It's a sombre, life-affirming movie framed by cinematography and sound design that has a life of its own (but is generous enough to accept second billing to the ballad of Mina and Alex).

We almost feel as voyeur to witness this journey of two young outsiders finding strength in their own space - both within and outside of the boundaries of their own secretive woodland domain. You fear for them both as they head out into the real world again - a place where bad things still happen. But it's also a step that should, in the end, make them stronger.

That idyllic life they briefly had on their own - left to their own devices - eventually seems an impossible dream (because 'others' will always eventually come, and there may be no such thing as 'absolute isolation' - even when hidden in the woods). Even more so now they are together; death still spreads like a curse; the killings in the wood no longer just for food - now they also both need to kill to protect their friendship and to defend each other. But without that way of life (and by the end of the film, that way of life is all over) what actually is there? We may need another film to find out.

One defining sequence in THE DARK comes as the two friends step beyond the trees into the world outside and there is a sudden rising of natural sound and bright light that shatters and smears the hushed, silvery and shadowy landscape they are used to - a louder and more hostile place to be in, and a bold stroke on the canvas from directors Justin P. Lange and Klemens Hufnagl. Even when ultimately left to go it alone, the strength between Mina and Alex remains. Mina's final scenes show her being picked up in a car, driven by a middle aged woman concerned that the teenage girl is out walking by herself, alone, in the middle of nowhere... Mina gets in. It's the last we see of her.

There's no real hint that the unknown woman's life is now at risk from this zombie girl sitting in her passenger seat. It feels more as if Alex actually now wants to be found and no longer needs to exist skulking in the shadows. Now that her face is fully returned to that of the girl she once was; no longer zombie (in appearance) - can she live a normal life again? Will she try and find her friend and help him (we have no real idea of Alex's fate). It's an uncertain closure to the film for sure. But in a pin drop of an auditorium, and for a fully subdued FRIGHTFEST crowd, it was the closest we were going to get to a happy ending.

THE DARK comes loaded with two outstanding leads: Nadia Alexander as Mina grabs both heart and throat strings and never lets go - balancing crouching, predatory, scurrying, almost playful threat with overwhelming sadness, depression and isolation. And Toby Nichols as Alex elicits an eerily resigned and haunted acceptance of fate with a friendly, stoic demeanour (that occasionally slips its defences - the wetting of his jeans more symbolic of actual terror than an often outward calm suggests). Direction, sound (James Lazarenko - sound mixer) and cinematography (from co-director Klemens Hufnagl) - and yes: screenplay too (from director Lange) - is elegiac, naturalistic and quietly breathless.

THE DARK was a standout at this year's FRIGHTFEST: an ultra dark and super moody tale of emo zombie in love. That fantasy, angsty, teenage tree-climbing zombie in the woods graphic novel that you always wanted to see made as a movie - just got done.

The lack of fanfare compared to some other movies on the main screen this year was admitted in the film's introduction from the FRIGHTFEST team, but the sleeper hit potential and word of mouth the film has been getting was also acknowledged. No cast or crew attended the screening, which was a shame. The gathering aura surrounding this movie and its quirky and defiantly individual existence in the midst of other movies making far more noise and chaos (not least Noe's closer of CLIMAX) was a hushed breath of freshly dead girl's air in the auditorium, and just a little bit awesome.
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