14th Oct2021

Grimmfest 2021: ‘Shot in the Dark’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Kristoffer McMillan, Jacqueline Toboni, Brandon Sklenar, Kelley Mack, Christine Donlon, Austin Hebert, Will Harris, Lindsay Ames, Rhomeyn Johnson | Written by Kristoffer McMillan, Keene McRae, Lane Thomas | Directed by Keene McRae

I feel like the horror genre has had a recent surge in movies that seem to centre on a certain theme or story, say a couples struggling relationship and then almost adding on anything horror-related after, or at l;east that’s how it seems. This is not necessarily a new or a bad thing but in the movies I have watched recently it does seem to be happening more than before.

Shot in the Dark focuses on a guy , William (Kristoffer McMillan), who is still struggling with something that happened in his life two years previous. Now suicidal, his career is failing and he has moved to his home town in the hope that old friends and familiar surrounds might help it out of his rut. But things aren’t going smoothly and now there’s a serial killer on the loose in the town.

When Shot in the Dark concentrates on William and his life, it is at its very best. With very little acting experience on his IMDb page, McMillan is fantastic in the lead role. Despite his depressed and often angry demeanour he somehow makes the character likeable. This is helped by the many flashbacks we see of his past life and how he is where he is. These are much needed and ‘fill in the gaps’ throughout the movie as we get to understand William.

Some of the very best horror films tackle the subject of how people deal with loss. Hereditary instantly became one of my favourite films ever after seeing how it used this subject while adding a crazy but excellent and terrifying horror edge. Unfortunately I thought that Shot in the Dark was probably at its worse when it went down the more traditional and obvious serial killer horror route. It felt strangely disconnected to the story and although I understand why it is included and how it does effect the characters and story, I just couldn’t get into that part of the story. The serial killer never really interested me and although he is playing second fiddle to a big story arc, I wanted to be more interested.

But once again, outside of this it feels like a really well made low budget indie drama. The dialogue is mostly good, it’s shot in some intriguing ways and many of the performances are enjoyable. It’s not often I say I wished a movie wasn’t a horror movie but here we are. Or maybe I just wish the horror part was more interesting.

Shot in the Dark is a well put together film and at times was completely gripping, a strong score helped for this. Although the blood and gore is dingy and dirty, I was happier watching the lead deal with his life and this concludes in a satisfactory and compelling way. This is director Keene McRae’s first feature and I will be keeping an eye on him in the future..

*** 3/5

Shot in the Dark screened as part of this years Grimmfest.

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