27th Jun2024

‘Blackest Darkness’ Review

by Jim Morazzini

Stars: Aaron Dunlap, Jessica Blaustein, Michael D. Acosta, Carl J Grasso, Anthony G. Marshall, Greg Holcombe, Rob Steinberg | Written by Michael D. Acosta | Directed by Adam Hulin

A nameless man, the credits simply refer to him as Drillman (Aaron Dunlap; Loom, No Good Deed) sits alone in a diner as an old-school country murder ballad plays over the soundtrack. After a slightly odd conversation with the waitress, played by Jessica Blaustein who also plays every other woman in the film. Whoever he is, he’s on the road and trying to get home in time for his wife’s birthday, but he figures he has time for a twenty-dollar hand job from the waitress.

However, once he gets to the parking lot he finds The Clown, played by Michael D. Acosta (Devolve Babylon), who also wrote Blackest Darkness’ script and score, leaning against his car, having a smoke. This is the point where any sane person would be getting the hell out of town, instead, after he’s done with the waitress, our unknown protagonist decides to take a nap. He’s woken up by Lou (Carl J Grasso; I Slay on Christmas, Faces of the Dead) and Tony (Anthony G. Marshall; Popular Theory, Paradise Lost) who ask him if he’s the drill man, he asks how they knew and leaves with them.

Acosta and director Adam Hulin (Hatchet County, By Bogdanovich) start Blackest Darkness as if it were a noir with its collection of flawed and criminal characters. It’s filtered through modern cinema, however. Lou and Tony are very reminiscent of Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction, and The Clown with his beard and shaved head putting one in mind of Captain Spalding from House of 1,000 Corpses and its sequels.

However, as the film goes on it starts becoming progressively stranger, both in what we see on the screen and the way it’s presented to us. The narrative is broken up by scenes of a man, face hidden by the brim of his hat, making ominous pronouncements in a distorted, hard-to-understand voice and flashbacks including one that makes you wonder why he wants to be back with his wife.

By the time the crew is pulled over by Sheriff Skinny Bill (Greg Holcombe; Avenged, Happy People) and given a lecture on proper nutrition, Blackest Darkness is starting to approach the surreal and anyone who was expecting a straightforward horror or crime film may well be wondering just what they’re watching.

Even before Parson Brown (Rob Steinberg) makes his appearance, there are several clues such as the constant use of a red filter, and some heavy-handed religious symbolism, including a falling bible and a symbolic baptism to at least point you in the right direction. And that direction may well help shape your opinion of Blackest Darkness, depending on your theological stance.

Blackest Darkness is a good-looking film, Justin A. Wallace (UFO’s, UAP’s, and Extraterrestrials: Military and Academic Confessions, Devolve Babylon) captures several striking shots in the film’s eternal night as well as a black and white parody of old sitcoms. The cast does well in some intentionally enigmatic roles, with Jessica Blaustein’s performance as every female character, in what is her first film, an impressive debut.

With its religious messaging and bizarre, non-linear storytelling, this film won’t be for everyone. Perhaps the best way to describe it is, if David Lynch made a faith-based horror movie, it would probably look a lot like Blackest Darkness. You can take that as a recommendation or a warning as you choose.

*** 3/5

Blackest Darkness is available on streaming platforms, including Tubi.

Review originally posted on Voices From the Balcony

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