Friday, July 1, 2011

Film Review: And Soon the Darkness (2010)


And Soon the Darkness is one of those films that I kept pushing aside because I didn't think it was any good. Well, in this drought of horror that 2011 is turning out to be...I decided to finally check it out. Sometimes in life, there are certain times where you could avoid unfortunate scenarios because you could already sense what the outcome was going to be. This was one of those times.

How many times did this film piss me off? Here...let us count the ways...


1. Odette Yustman: Normally I like Odette Yustman. I kind of look at her as an insanely beautiful skinny girl. Here, however, she comes off fucking obnoxious and self-centered. I really couldn't get behind her character. I mean...don't get me wrong, I could get behind her character...but, I couldn't get behind her character. Does that even make sense?? Ellie is so unlikeable that I couldn't wait for her to die. There's a scene where her friend Stephanie (played by the awesomely hot Amber Heard) pretty much gets up and leaves her after an insignificant argument about how Ellie thinks Stephanie should get laid more often. Well, when Stephanie gets on her bike and takes off, I was left thinking...good for her. Fuck that Ellie bitch. Hopefully, we don't see her again. Unfortunately, Ellie was part of a very important plot device called the OMG My Best Friend Got Herself Kidnapped for Third World Sex Slavery Now I Must Find a Way to Locate Her...so, I knew in my heart that it was only a matter of time before we would see the idiotic Ellie again. And I call her idiotic because there are just things you don't do in a movie that takes place in a third world country that likes to kidnap hot young girls for sex slavery. One of those things is...YOU DON'T FUCKING GET DRUNK IN A BAR AND SHAKE YOUR ASS AROUND WHEN YOU ARE ONE OF TWO OF THE HOTTEST FEMALES THAT THE LOCALS HAVE EVER SEEN AND THEN DISAPPEAR WITH THE SUSPICIOUS-LOOKING GUY THAT LIKES TAKING PICTURES OF YOU WITH HIS CELL PHONE. And she just does shit like this throughout the whole film.


2. Karl Urban: Again...I normally like Karl Urban as an actor. He displays a very strong presence on film. However, here he's just wandering around the fucking country of Argentina, showing up at convenient times where he proceeds to look menacing...without any real threat or purpose. In fact...when he walks into the bar where the girls are hanging out, he strolls in with that certain "hero strut" and you think to yourself...this guy's gonna be important...this guy knows shit...this guy's gonna save the day. Then, he goes away...only to show up minutes later to beat the suspicious-looking guy's ass just in time to save the previously mentioned idiotic Ellie from a certain raping outside her own motel room. Then, he goes away again....until, he pulls up in his sport compact later in the film when Stephanie is looking for her dumb friend after she gets herself gone.

I wanted to like the character of Michael (Urban)...I really did. But, he was just some half-assed character that the writers of the film whipped up to add a vague sense of heroic solace that you try to invest in...only to find yourself not giving two fucks when his character arc is revealed. Wasted potential.


3. The Premise: Turistas, Hostel, Taken...we've seen this shit before. Hot girls in a third world country who get kidnapped for sex/organs/sex with organs. It plays out as a color by numbers example of much better films. Everything is so goddamn predictable...you'll pretty much know how the entire film turns out 15 minutes in. I was hoping for some kind of twist or revelation that took what I knew and turned it all around on me. There are films that sort of do stuff like that. They'll take the familiar and flip it into something altogether fresh. Not here. This one's so predictable, I wish they flashed what the weather was gonna be like this weekend for the barbecue I have planned.

At one point during the third act, the tone turns from "suspense" to a sort of action/adventure. Almost like John Rambo waking up kidnapped  and tied up on a boat...then he fumbles around for the handy prop that happens to be in reach in which to club one of the bad guys and jump off the boat in which to swim speedily to shore where he paints himself with mud and hides in the darkness waiting for the rest of the Vietcong to show up so that he can stab him in the ass with his shank. Actually...except for the mud...that's probably a good description of what happens in the final act. I would've put a spoiler warning if it weren't for the fact that you'll pretty much know what will happen anyway as you watch this film.


4. Calvo: That's the policia guy's name in the film and I can't stand him. He represents the good guy that you know is gonna turn out to be a bad guy bait and switch that is done so ineptly in this film. As soon as he shows up...you know how things are gonna end up. I'm seriously not exaggerating when I explain how utterly predictable this film is...and Calvo pretty much adds coal to that fire. I understand that his character is a necessity in a film like this...but, at least do it with some kind of originality.

There's a scene in the much superior 2010 version of I Spit on Your Grave where before the sheriff character starts in with the unspeakable things that he's about to take part in...he receives a call from his young daughter asking him if he's gonna make it to church that morning. The weight of that one little scene speaks volumes about his character in that particular film and paints such a despicable picture of what mankind is capable of. Something like that could've worked to the same degree in this film and would've given Calvo much more depth instead of the cardboard cut-out character that he clearly is.


5. Horror????: Ok...IMDB lists horror as one of the genres this film displays. And for...maybe the first half hour...it does give a certain level of edge-of-your-seat suspense that much better horror films exhibit. And Soon the Darkness is actually rated R. For what....I have absolutely no idea. There's hardly any gore. Heard and Yustman get down to to their bikinis...so, there's no real nudity. Most of the intense dialogue is spoken in Spanish....so, there's no real bad words. I don't get it. Did I watch a PG-13 version? Now...I get that, sometimes, you don't really need an R rating to show the horror...but, in this case. Yes, you do. This film is about a couple of young hot girls being kidnapped for the sex trade. You need to show more stuff like the Hostel films in order to be taken seriously as a horror film. Otherwise, this is mostly an action/thriller. At least show some good gore. Do some inventive things with latex and fake blood. Show me something that'll make me flinch or squirm. Director Marcos Efron doesn't really do anything to scare me and validate that label of horror. I had to verify that I wasn't watching this film on the Oxygen channel.

I could do this all day. But, then...much like And Soon the Darkness...what would be the point? There is some good in the film. Amber Heard. She's great in the film...but, then again...I haven't seen a film with her in it where she didn't display solid acting and a real sense of peril. And she's hot. She's the tough final girl in the truest sense of the term.


And that pretty much wraps up the good in the film.

And Soon the Darkness is a remake of a better 1970's British film of the same name. It doesn't do anything new...and it doesn't really have a point. It's just there. Like cauliflower. It's kind of a waste of some good potential...and ultimately just becomes an excuse for Amber Heard to kick ass like John Rambo. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However...given the circumstances...I cannot recommend this film to anyone.




1 out of 5




Thanks for reading,

bryan.

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