From the Dark (2014)

from-the-dark-conor-mcmahon-vampire

“A couple on a trip through the Irish countryside find themselves hunted by a creature who only attacks at night.” — IMDb

Sarah (played by Niamh Algar) and Mark (played by Stephen Cromwell) are on a trip through the Irish countryside when their car gets stuck in some mud. In an attempt to locate some nearby help, Mark stumbles upon a man who is in desperate need of some help and thus seals their fate as prey to a nocturnal beast.

It is, of course, not the most original of stories, but it didn’t need much. I found the main characters to be pretty instantly likable, though there wasn’t much done to develop a real bond between them — there’s actually some tension introduced as Mark lists the reasons why he would probably never get married (which Sarah is obviously yearning for). But, again, I don’t think their romantic connection was crucial to this story, which was more focused on bare bones suspense and mystery.

We know from the first scene that this is obviously some kind of vampiric creature — the old farmer removes the stake after he stumbles upon the body while digging, and it avoids light at all costs — and man, I really felt like they nailed the creepiness of it. It stays in the shadows for a majority of the movie. We see a few glimpses here and there (and even in the light it’s pretty awesome looking), but the real fear comes from its otherworldly skulking in the dark, drawing some obvious inspiration from Nosferatu. It is clearly a powerful, quick creature and yet it spends much of its time gliding around as if its feet don’t even touch the ground. There’s a few scenes in particular — its hand reaching for Sarah in the glow of her lighting a cigarette, the scene pictured above when it is seen fully in shadow out one of the windows of the house, seeing its shadowy figure on the bank after Mark falls in the water — that deliver some deep chills.

Unfortunately the director, Conor McMahon, seemed to be stuck on the quiet, understated scares — there were a few moments that I felt should have delivered much more impact and surprise (the very first moments of the vampire breaking into the house, Mark shattering the lights on the tractor, Sarah ultimately sacrificing Mark for her own safety) that just fell flat.

I did appreciate the strong female lead in Sarah. She carries a majority of the film and she’s tenacious and bold.

I felt like it plateaued for a while there in the middle — we got stuck in this repetitive cycle of “find light, scare off vampire, repeat” — but we’re brought back in to the action right around the time when Sarah is forced to chop off her own finger after getting a nasty bite. But the ending, man… both the surprise and then the bit of mystery in the last second are really fantastic. An understated and yet truly creepy and intelligent film.

Rating: 6/10 | Director: Conor McMahon | Music: Ray Harman | Starring: Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell

 

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