IN DARKNESS WE FALL [London Film Festival 2014]

PrintE-mail Written by Peter Turner


MOVIE REVIEW: IN DARKNESS WE FALL (LA CUEVA) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: ALFREDO MONTERO / SCREENPLAY: JAVIER GULLÓN, ALFREDO MONTERO / STARRING: MARTA CASTELLOTE / XOEL FERNÁNDEZ, EVA GARCIA-VACAS / RELEASE DATE: TBC

In a deep, dark cave on a remote island off the coast of Spain, no can hear you scream. In Darkness We Fall has no aliens, no ghosts, no witches, and no pale freakish subterranean monsters. Instead, it has five friends desperate to find a way out of the darkness before dehydration and starvation put a tragic end to their camping holiday. With one character armed with a camera, this claustrophobic cave crawl takes the found footage concept to new depths.

Set on the idyllic island of Formentera, just a stone’s throw away from party-mad Ibiza, In Darkness We Fall sees the five friends having a holiday in paradise before it all goes horribly (as the ravers might say) Pete Tong. After camping in the middle of nowhere, drinking far too much, skinny dipping and shagging, the quintet finds a cave that leads them straight down into darkness. Dehydrated already from their previous night of heavy boozing, they set off to explore the cave on a whim, but soon find the excitement turning to terror. The hot, dangerous passageways are a labyrinth of muddy walls that appear to go on forever and the cave is covered with stalactites that stick out nastily. However, it quickly becomes clear that the adrenaline-pumped adventurers are hopelessly lost.

Their initial happy-go-lucky facades begin to crumble as pranks turn to panic, their food and water dries up and they realise they are doomed to die in the darkness of the cave. Desperate times call for desperate measures and soon the former friends find themselves turning more than the camera on each other in the depths of their very own personal hell.

The found footage format is proving decidedly hard to kill; with yet another effort that proves what an effective method of presenting horror it can be. Not since The Blair Witch Project has a group of people bickering their way to their eventual deaths seemed so frighteningly believable. Where Blair Witch had the never-ending woods and an unseen supernatural menace, In Darkness We Fall has a cave that is so completely impossible to get your bearings in; it makes the woods seem positively lit up with exit signs. This Spanish language effort also borrows liberally from [REC], another classic of the found footage subgenre, with its characters depending on the camera’s night vision mode once the lights all go completely out for the nail-biting finale.

Though there is still the odd moment where audiences will be left slapping their heads and saying ‘why are you still filming this?’ the use of the camera becomes more and more essential as the film goes on. The speedy descent into madness of some characters is scarily convincing as dehydration and claustrophobia attacks the unfortunate group and simmering resentments rise. It starts out sunny and fun with the pranks being first amusing, then their attempts to survive seem quite smart, but finally their deterioration is shocking, saddening, and before too long, vicious. It’s anchored by solid performances and a near-unbearable final act that is over too quickly.

Tense, gripping and uncompromisingly claustrophobic, the experience is stifling and frequently disturbing. It may not break any new ground but In Darkness We Fall proves to anyone who thought the tape and the batteries had finally ran out of the found footage genre, that something really scary can still find its way into the light.

Expected Rating: 5 out of 10

Actual Rating:

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