At first glance, Dark Was The Night has all the makings of SyFy channel original movie: a sheriff protagonist, a small isolated town, and a monster lurking in the woods. Does this trip into the darkness yield a worthwhile experience or is it devoid of any real thrills?
Grieving father and town sheriff Paul Shields is just trying to make it, day one at a time, when strange occurrences begin taking place in the town of Maiden Woods. Livestock have gone missing, mysterious foot prints are appearing all over town and Paul’s son Adam insists that someone, or something, has been lingering outside their house at night. Initially convinced that it’s all some elaborate prank, Paul comes to suspect otherwise, that there might be some truth in the legends regarding the town and the surrounding forest.
It’s a simple premise and one would be forgiven for assuming Dark Was The Night to be a made-for-television, b-rate creature feature. However, that isn’t really the case. With themes of loss, guilt, and bereavement, Dark Was The Night isn’t a film strictly built around the promise of its monster. Sure, the monster plays an important part, but there’s also emphasis on character with great writing from Tyler Hisel and a solid performance from lead actor, Kevin Durand (television’s The Strain).
Unlike many contemporary creature features, Dark Was The Night takes a rather conservative approach to showing its monster. Instead of parading the creature out in the open for all to see, the film sticks with keeping the supernatural threat in the shadows. Audiences only ever catches glimpses of the thing, its presence generally acknowledged through audio cues and sound effects. It’s a smart choice overall, and it definitely works in the film’s favor, making the entity mysterious and terrifying. Also, the approach lends itself well to creating some good scares, both immediate and lingering.
This more-is-less philosophy persists throughout, that is up until the finale when the monster is revealed in full and it’s here where Dark Was The Night loses its footing. Up to this point, the monster’s physical ambiguity leaves its appearance largely up to the imagination of the viewer. In turn, the reveal in full ultimately ruins the audience’s perception of the beast. This criticism would be a minor sting except for the fact that it’s rendered using some lackluster CGI. While not necessarily awful, the animation noticeably contrasts with the rest of the film, especially the excellent practical effects used to previously portray the creature. It’s a shame and it ends up detracting from the film’s ending.
Dark Was The Night may not end on the strongest note, but that shouldn’t deter those interested in seeing it. With a focus on character and good scares, Dark Was The Night has the makings for a solid independent horror film.
DARK WAS THE NIGHT is available on VOD via RLJ/Image Entertainment