Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The Dark Hours (2005)

The Dark Hours is a psychological horror film from Canada that features some cringe-inducing bits and a solid (if familiar) plot.

Dr. Samantha Goodman works at a mental hospital dealing with dangerous patients, most of whom have committed sex crimes or have violently assaulted and killed women. Her husband is a writer and her sister is his research assistant. The two go up to a cabin for a weekend, and after seeing the results of a CAT scan, Samantha decides to join them. When she arrives, she tells them that the tumor inside her brain is growing and there is no cure for the rare condition. As they look on with shock, sadness and disbelief, the doorbell rings. An awkward and twitchy 20-something comes in, looking to get out of the snow while he waits for his friends. He's not he's all he appears to be, though, as seen in one shocking scene. He takes the trio hostage with a gun until Harlan Pyne arrives to take care of business. He is Dr. Samantha's patient and had been stuck in a coma for years. He has now arrived to give the psychologist a taste of her own medicine. He plays mind games with the family, trying to get the ugly truth out of all of them. If they don't play along with his games, things could get pretty messy...but he shares more with Samantha than any of them think...

I love that this movie, from the first shocking turn of events, keeps its fast and tension-filled pace. The psychological terror that Harlan puts them through is intense, and yet his intelligence and wit kinda makes you like him. There are a few solid scares in the film and some great gory parts, such as when Harlan forces Samantha to rip her own pinky finger off with a pair of pliers.

The performances are all great and very believable. I love Aidan Devine as escaped psychopath Harlan Pyne and Kate Greenhouse as Samantha Gordon. For an independent film, everything looks great and I love that the director chose to focus solely on the horror of the mind games being played instead of using flashy camera tricks.

My only quibble is that I saw the ending coming from the first 10 minutes of the movie! The woman has a tumor...hmmm...and it's growing...could this lead to hallucinations? An altered reality? The rest of the film follows the basic home-invasion plot that has been done many times (with the "twist" thrown in to change things up a bit), so it's all pretty predictable. Yet, it is the acting and the sheer brutality of the proceedings that make this movie work.

I also love anything that's not your typical Hollywood-style, dumbed-down slasher flick. Check out The Dark Hours yourself, if anything for something a lil' different than the standard fare nowadays.

Order it on Amazon!

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