Friday, October 27, 2006

Of Darkness (2006)

Last night I popped into my DVD player a screener I had received, called Of Darkness. I wasn't expecting much, just another low to no budget horror flick. Was I ever in for a surprise!

After their grandfather's death, brothers Brian (Frank Nardi) and Jeff (Dallas Scott) haul his old chest down to the basement for storage. Jeff, the younger brother, drops his end and their grandfather's belongings spill on the floor. As they pick up the items and place them back in the chest, Jeff finds an old, creepy book that looks as if it is bound in human skin. Brian explains that their dear grandpappy was actually a practicing Satanist. Jeff scoffs at this statement, but Brian insists that it is true. After the lone light bulb in the basement begins flickering, the two hurriedly race back upstairs.

Later that night, the boys take advantage of their mom being out of town. Brian heads off to party all night, while Jeff has his friends Tank (Eric Austin), Mac (Brendon Boyes), Wallander (Dominic Fera) and Tank's little brother Charlie (Adam Montgomery) over to hang out. The older boys harass the gullible Charlie by telling him the horror movie they are watching is real. Soon, Jeff brings out his grandfather's book and the boys egg Charlie on to open it.

When he fearfully opens it, it contains images of torture, possession and other nasty drawings little boys should not be filling their heads with. By opening the book, Charlie and the boys unleash a malevolent force that takes the form of darkness, terrorizing the boys and overtaking them one by one!

Clocking in at a quick 20 minutes, this film creeps up on you and gives you a big kick in the behind (in a good way of course) that most horror films can't acheive in 2 hours time! It features kids as the leads for once (no wild 'n' crazy teens here) and a simple yet excellent story that really terrifies!

This film is so well done that I wouldn't be surprised if it is turned into a feature length film. The production values alone make it look completely pro. The camera work is clean, seamless and complements the action. Of special note is the lighting, an important factor in a movie about the darkness. The lighting helps create an ominous atmosphere, especially when lights begin to go out in the house and the film becomes darker and darker.

The acting alone is phenomenal. Even though most of the cast is relatively young, their acting chops are impressive. I would look out for each and every one of these actors in the future because their performances are so believable and realistic. As actors, they are able to make their terror the audience's terror; quite a feat to achieve!

The story is very simple, as the tagline states, "Be Afraid of the Dark." There is hardly any gore (until the end, when Brian discovers the carnage left behind by the darkness), but this film doesn't need it. It is scary enough when the kids are pulled into the darkness one by one by some unseen evil presence. It is the simplicity of the story that makes it so terrifying. The darkness (or what the darkness contains) is swallowing these kids up and though we can't see them being torn apart, we hear their horrific screams.

The film works on one of the basest fears, the fear of the dark and the unknown. It's the fear of the dark that paralyzes so many people, young and old. Of Darkness uses this fear to terrorize the audience. It's simple yet effective horror that chilled me to the bone.

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