Review: IN THE DARK
Like zombie films, found footage silliness and every other type of horror films that suddenly become so very over-saturated in today’s market, the possession subgenre is another kind of genre that rarely does anything outside the box. We’ve all seen the same thing, skeptical priests, exorcisms throwing people in the air, an occasional spiderwalk…it’s safe to say that we’ve all been there and done that, two or three times over. It’s with that truth, that David Spaltro’s IN THE DARK does something that will most definitely catch you off guard: it opts for a very personal story, in which the characters involved are all more important than the possession elements, giving genre fans one hell of a demonic ride that feels fresh and very, very new.
Giving one visually interesting opening to the film, one that finds a woman painting something dark and almost disturbing, while speaking to her mother. Little by little, the tension builds, and when the woman believes her mother is still talking to her, she turns around to see…nothing. When the mother comes downstairs to see what the young painter is still doing up, she begins to talking to the girl’s shadow, which we soon discover is nothing of the sort…
Providing such a tension-filled opening is a great touch that director Spaltro, along with two fine performances by Grace Folsom and Catherine Cobb Ryan as Bethany and Joan Mills (the daughter and her mother) really helps give viewers something new and extremely unsettling to get on board with, before the film even really stars.
We then meet Veronica, a grad student writing her thesis on paranormal beliefs and her thoughts on them, and Lois Kearne, a renowned specialist in the paranormal. Veronica interviews Lois, and it’s obvious that Lois completely believes in the presence of “True Evil”, while Veronica is a skeptic, through and through. In her home life, Veronica has a steady relationship but fears committing to marriage, and has just recently found that she’s also pregnant. There’s a level of closing herself off from everyone, and as a first quarter of the film, it’s good to really get to know the characters before being expected to want to follow them into the depths of something truly evil and dangerous. Wanting to follow Lois investigate the Mother and Daughter Mills and their talks of Bethany having some sort of darkness or demonic entity inside of her, Victoria comes along, and from there…all hell breaks loose.
What sets IN THE DARK in its own playground so to speak, is how different of an approach it aims for, not relying on priests and levitating bodies, but truly scary happenings. When Lois and the skeptical Veronica begin to try to reach Bethany, it’s the demon inhabiting Bethany that pushes back and when it does, it’s absolutely terrifying in ways that we as horror fans just don’t get very often. Grace Folsom’s performance as Bethany is one that absolutely fires on all cylinders, she’s just THAT good.
The difference that we get as viewers between your typical possession film and IN THE DARK is that you can tell Spaltro knows the genre, knows what’s been done time and time again and has absolutely done a fine job offering genre fans a unique and completely terrifying alternative to the same old thing. It’s a film filled with demonic fun, a terrifying and absolutely shocking film that refuses to play by the rules.