Two sisters, a godforsaken forest, and a menacing creature on the loose–all horror tropes that when put together can produce one ultra-satisfying result. Unfortunately, A Dark Path doesn’t deliver. Much like the film’s sisters I was left wandering…searching for more than just shots of forest. I went on a hunt to find this creature, and my search was a little disappointing.
A Dark Path follows sisters Abi (Makenna Guyler) and Lilly (Mari Beaseley) after they depart from their friend Jessica’s (Annabelle Mackinnon-Austin) hen party–bachelorette party for those not UK based–in Eastern Europe. On their way to the airport to catch their flight back home, Abi and Lilly run into some directional troubles which leads them down a “Dark Path” (get it?). The film is only 75 minutes long, and things don’t start to pick up until about 35 minutes in. Most of the film was just arguing and then wandering about the woods. Suffice it to say the film’s greatest challenge was keeping my interest. While wandering the woods can be eerie and develop delicious tension in a horror film, wandering for 30 minutes without conflict is more frustrating than fear-inducing. Abi does come into contact with two other survivors, but rather than move the story forward it just let us know that maybe this creature isn’t as lethal as we thought.
There are some visually really pleasing elements in this film. Writer/director Nicholas Winter does a great job of slowly stripping all safety from Abi and Lilly. First, they are not in a good mental state from drinking all night. Next comes the broken satellite GPS as a result of drunken shenanigans. Then goes the cell signal. There is a slow change from a well-traveled road to a barely recognizable dirt trail in the middle of a creepy forest and then boom…the tire goes flat.
As the sisters go to explore their possessions are left in the car, leaving them essentially devoid of resources. Then night falls and the absence of light creates an ominous feeling. And finally, as the girls become separated the isolation sets in and the full circle of fear is completed. This slow removal of all safety is pretty standard in horror films, but A Dark Path does it in such a way that feels more artistic than trite. And it should be noted that Makenna Guyler (Abi) delivers a stunning monologue while she and Mari Beasley (Lilly) are trapped in the woods. Her talent is definitely a shining moment in this film.
The creature (Ade Dimberline), while visually pleasing, is hardly featured in the film and doesn’t play a menacing enough role. It observes, wanders, and tears at a person or two…but it does not create that malicious power we seek from creatures (especially those of the non-human variety). Maybe Winter believed featuring this creature in the last minutes of the film would develop tension and anticipation, but I feel it had the opposite effect. Though it had some nice elements, A Dark Path wasn’t that dark and I don’t think I will walk the path again. The film is now available on Amazon Prime.
3 out of 10