If there is any word which isn't synonymous with the horror genre, it's “subtlety”, and after years of extreme gore with the likes of Haute Tension and Hostel, where the level of blood equated with the amount of shock, it is clear that the horror genre is going to downplay some of that intense gore and go back to the more gradual style of narrative-driven works.
Justin P. Lange's The Dark is certainly one example that is going to resonate with fans who are looking for something different and, on the back of the hugely successful A Quiet Place and Get Out, the genre is starting to promise other films that place more focus on character development fused with the essence of what horror as a genre has to offer to audiences and fans.
Josef Hofer (Karl Markovics) is a man with a hostage on the run who kills a shopkeeper en route to the mystical woodland area known as “Devil's Den”. He finds a seemingly abandoned house in the area, but soon finds he is not alone when he is attacked and killed by a scarred figure with an axe. The attacker, Mina (Nadia Alexander) - who seems to be a zombie who inhabits the woods - and hostage Alex (Toby Nichols) develop a bond, but he is unaware of her physical scars and she is also nurturing dark thoughts of her past which come back to haunt her. However, he is well aware of the backstory of Devil's Den, and is intrigued by Mina's presence...
The Dark is reminiscent of Warm Bodies in some ways, with a lead character not totally at ease with what is happening to her and, thanks to Nadia Alexander's performance, has considerable depth. It's an atmospheric film at times and has some interest, but fans expecting a few more shocks throughout will feel short-changed. The make-up team's efforts are commendable and the cinematography (by Klemens Hufnagl) are worth seeking out.
Overall, it is well worth a look and is in sync with other cult indies like The Woman amongst others. Will certainly play well with the horror crowd.
THE DARK / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JUSTIN P. LANGE / SCREENPLAY: JUSTIN P. LANGE / STARRING: NADIA ALEXANDER, TOBY NICHOLS, KARL MARKOVICS / RELEASE DATE: 15TH JANUARY