An undead teenage girl befriends a blind boy that she meets in a forest she haunts and hunts in. Both have been victims of unimaginable abuse, and each finds solace in the other. There may be a chance of light at the end of their tunnel, but it will come with a body count.
Josef Hofer (Karl Markovics) is on the run. Tearing through back country roads, he drives through an area known as Devil’s Den with his captive Alex (Toby Nichols) trapped in a sleeping bag in the back. Seeking the perfect hiding place, Josef runs afoul of a dark creature lurking in the woods and the real story begins.
The Dark begins with a prologue of sorts that sets up a story exploring the repercussions of abuse, recovery, and the bond between to very hurt souls. Mina (Nadia Alexander) is a flesh-eating zombie who has survived in her old family home, long after the adults that should have taken care of her, have passed. After dispensing with yet another nefarious adult, she finds Josef’s victim Alex who has been blinded. Mina begrudgingly decides to help this broken kid despite his bizarre loyalty to the man that abused him.
Recalling films like Let the Right One In where two adolescents form a bond under the worst of circumstances, The Dark is a slow, methodical exploration of the survival of the dangers of surviving childhood in a harsh world. As the far more acerbic and hardened Mina slowly warms up to the blind Alex, she realizes it is up to her to make things right again for her new friend. Of course, as Mina guides him to safety, the dangers of well-meaning adults and others pose a serious threat to her discovery.
Justin P. Lange’s film is a somber yet hopeful exploration of the repercussions of trauma and what it turns the victims into. Mina is a zombie, Alex is blind. The symbolism is right there to read into. Mina has been left, transformed into a monster. Alex is blindly loyal to his captor and crippled with fear. We do learn Mina’s backstory, how she became who she is now, yet for all of the remarkable thoughtfulness of the screenplay, we get little info about what Alex has endured.
Shot in cold tones of blue, Klemens Hufnagl’s cinematography captures a mood of isolation and sadness that slowly evolves as the film continues. Also remarkable is the makeup work done by Zane Knisely, Marissa Clemence, and Graham Chivers with effects that startle and prosthetics that are fully believable.
The Dark is a horror movie that faces the real horrors of abuse that too many are familiar with. It is slow at times, demanding a little patience from the viewer, but it is worth it. Let The Dark take you on a slow journey and you will ultimately find hope.
Norm(an) Gidney is a nearly lifelong horror fan. Beginning his love for the scare at the age of 5 by watching John Carpenter's Halloween, he set out on a quest to share his passion for all things spooky with the rest of the world.