darkThere’s something incredibly powerful when genre films are elevated by great writing. As a fan of horror, there is no greater reward to being given a hell of a story in which you CARE and sympathize for every character in front of you. It’s what sets certain horror films apart from typical slasher fare, and films like Jack Heller’s DARK WAS THE NIGHT really show what can be accomplished with a solid script, great direction and performances that you don’t see in a lot of genre films these days.

A deeply emotional story following a sheriff that has lost his faith in himself after one of his children dies in an accident, DARK WAS THE NIGHT does a great job of making you care about its characters, all of which inhabit a small town that for the most part, is haunted by a long-standing urban legend featuring a monster in the woods. Kevin Durand’s Paul Shields, the soft-spoken, almost broken sheriff, doesn’t believe in the legend, and has his own personal demons to tackle, before even beginning to believe in one that may or may not be plaguing the small town that at one time,  had complete faith in Shields. He’s a man that has given up on myself, his marriage is fractured, with his wife living elsewhere, his son looking to him for guidance, and a young deputy (a great Lukas Haas) looking to Paul for a leader as well. The fact that Tyler Hisel’s script gives us a viewers, such a fleshed out and greatly developed character is a definite plus. We want Paul to overcome to the stronghold that he feels holding him down, and face what he needs to, to not only help himself, but the residents who depend on him.

Because every internal demon story needs a physical one to help push its characters, DARK WAS THE NIGHT‘s antagonist monster is a good one, killing animals and people in the cold forest, leaving a demonic animal-like set of tracks all throughout the town. Once the town’s residents see this, they become insistent that the urban legend is not only true, but that it’s coming for them, and the film leads Shields, and Haas’s Deputy Donny Saunders characters on a quest to figure out who (and eventually what) is doing it.

It’s an exciting film, full of perfectly paced scenes, allowing tension to build and the film’s scares to come in different ways that we’re used to. It’s not so much a jump-scare film, but one of mood and ambiance, of characters reacting to horror. Durand is both heartbreaking and inspiring as Shields, showing yet again why he’s one of the best actors working today. Supporting characters such as Shields’ wife Susan (Bianca Kajlich, HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION) and the town’s bartender (played by LATE PHASES and STAKE LAND star Nick Damici) add so many additional layers to an already solid story of finding a faith in a broken man and standing up to your demons. The chemistry between Durand and Kajlich is phenomenal and heart-wrenching a the same time, with her character wanting Paul to forgive himself, but Shields doing his best to not only hold onto it but hate himself the whole time. When the film’s second half kicks in, and we get a full on monster film, it’s an added bonus, because DARK WAS THE NIGHT would work just as a character-driven drama, and as genre fans, we get the best of both, the story and the creature.

If only more horror films would follow the lead set by Heller and his team, then we’d get quite a few more impressive entries into this awesome genre, because DARK WAS THE NIGHT is the real deal, a genre film that will stand the test of time.

One Response to “Review: DARK WAS THE NIGHT”
  1. Tamaram55 says:

    Excellent movie!! Great review!

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