21st Jun2015

‘Out of the Dark’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Stephen Rea, Alejandro Furth, Frank Cuervo, Pixie Davies, Vanesa Tamayo | Written by Alex & David Pastor, Javier Gullón | Directed by Lluís Quílez

out-of-the-dark-cast

Two words for you. Killer kids. OK, make it three: killer ghost kids!

Out of the Dark is the latest film from brothers Alex and David Pastor, the duo behind the 2013 Frightfest flick The Last Days, which was a post-apocalyptic story that ended with a bittersweet coda that featured children going forth into the world to kick start the population. And here the Pastor brothers once again weave children into their tale, this time with director Lluís Quílez at the helm, who himself – a 2nd unit director on another Frightfest flick, Painless – has dealt with his fair share of children in horror.

This time round the Spanish trio weave a horrific ghost story that sees Sara (Stiles) travels with her husband Paul (Speedman) and young daughter to a small Colombian town, where she takes over the family business from her father (Rea). But the town has a mysterious past – somehow connected to the old medical centre where Sara and her family now live – and it’s only a matter of time before the spirits of dead children begin to torment their lives.

I don’t know about you, but alarm bells ring for me when any movie opens with a huge number of different production company names at the start of the credits; even moreso when – like Out of the Dark – a massive 11 companies/government agencies have their names and/or logo appear before we’re even a minute into the film… With that many people involved, does it mean the production was troubled by too many “fingers in pies”? I often wonder how many of the companies try to put their stamp on proceedings through re-writes, script-change suggestions, etc. If this film suffered from any such troubles, it sure doesn’t show on screen. Out of the Dark is a well-crafted, beautifully shot horror film that recalls the classics ghost stories of yesteryear but with a little added Spanish flavour, thanks to the sublime choice of backstory in the tale of Conquistadors and their attack on the Colombian town.

Interestingly, Out of the Dark shares a lot in common with the aforementioned Painless, in that it deals with mistakes of the past – involving children – that have repercussions today. Repercussions that are subtlely hinted to through the film, allowing those more aware of what is really going on in this story (which, frankly, is obvious if you’ve previously seen any other “big business in a small town” movies) to feel superior to those that don’t get it.

It’s not all good though. the obvious musical cues and the overuse of jump scares hurt what could have been a memorably haunting movie. As it is we are left with something that hits the right notes but never really satifises. However, on a personal note, kudos to both the Pastor brothers and director Lluís Quílez for, somehow, managing to make a film starring Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman – two actors I find incredibly uncharismatic – and having the pair actually come off as likeable, so much so that you cannot help but root for them as the ghostly goings-on spiral further out of control…

And spiral they do. In the end the truth will out of course and the final reveal, set in a creepy abandoned building, lays out just what has been going on in this South American town (sort of) and all those mentions of “there’s something in the water” finally make sense (sort of). It’s a shame that everything good about Out of the Dark ultimately leads to a ridiculously overblown finale, replete with overblown performances and terrible effects work, making something of a mockery of the old-fashioned ghost story that has come before it.

Out of the Dark is released on DVD and VOD on June 22nd.

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