Wednesday, February 2, 2011

And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Two American girls are on a bicycle tour through remote Argentina, but decide to set out on their own for the last few days of their vacation. Stephanie (Amber Heard) is trying to get over a recent break-up while Ellie (Odette Yustman) is the more free-spirited, wild one. After the two have an argument, Stephanie leaves Ellie sunbathing alone by an isolated river. When Stephanie returns to reconcile with her friend, she finds Ellie missing. While searching for her friend and getting no help from the local police, Stephanie turns to a fellow American named Michael (Karl Urban) for help. However, it seems that even Michael has his own secrets that make Stephanie distrust him. With no one to trust, will Stephanie be able to find Ellie before this movie turns into another Turistas or Hostel? Hmmmm…I’m betting not…

I was ready and willing to give And Soon the Darkness a chance…I figured it might do something new and put a twist on the whole tourists-in-peril sub-genre. I was even willing to put up with the poor man’s versions of Megan Fox (Yustman) and Scarlett Johansson (Heard). The film started off okay…especially since it was actually filmed in Argentina and the vistas were pretty spectacular. However, the film didn’t offer anything unique in regards to its storyline, which really is a pity considering the beautiful location they had to work with. Instead it limps along the well-tread “torture porn” road with a bit of black market sex slavery thrown in for good measure. If I had wanted to see that I would have just re-watched the excellent Shuttle (watch it NOW if you haven’t seen it yet) instead of sitting through this bland “horror” film.

In fact “bland” is an apt word to describe And Soon the Darkness, as it applies to nearly everything in the film. Bland acting, bland writing, a bland storyline, bland torture…The only thing that wasn’t bland was the direction by Marcos Efron and the cinematography by Gabriel Beristain. Of course, the natural beauty of Argentina may have made capturing its loveliness easy! I would even go so far as to say that if the film was re-cut it could be used as a way to promote tourism for the country (providing they cut out all the kidnapping, unfriendly locals, crooked police and torture…which should be easy since the film doesn’t really boast many of these scenes).

If you’re looking for horror, though, you’ll be sadly disappointed with And Soon the Darkness. While it has some great touristy shots that look like they belong in National Geographic, the film’s storyline fails to evoke any real scares since its premise is something we’ve all seen before (and in better films). It tries for a slow burn but falters in that it never actually goes anywhere. By the time Stephanie figured out what was going on I was beyond caring anyway and I just had to throw my hands up in the air when the story went the clich├ęd way of so many other films. I was at the very least hoping for a bit of a twist at the end that would differentiate this film from its ilk, but no such luck.

What I do find interesting is that this film is actually a remake of a 1970’s film of the same name, something I did not find out until after viewing the 2010 version. Despite the remake’s failure, I’m just a little bit curious as to how the original compares and may seek it out. If it turns out to be a fantastic film, I may have to actually thank And Soon the Darkness for actually doing something for me besides showing me pretty pictures of Argentina. For now though, the only thing that And Soon the Darkness did was bore me to death…and make me want to visit rural Argentina, even though the film should have had the opposite effect in both instances.

Available on Amazon!

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