12 June 2010

The Dark Hours 2005 - REVIEW

I spend a lot of time flipping through TV channels and guide surfing looking for movies to watch. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a sucker for a good independent film or low budget movie that wows me. Most of the time my efforts are reminiscent to that of the infamous Snipe Hunt except that I remain fully clothed, I did say most of the time right?, in that it's pretty much an impossible task. BUT, unlike the Snipe Hunt, there are those rare moments when I find exactly what I'm looking for.

Samantha Goodman (Kate Greenhouse) is a doctor who works with psychologically disturbed and criminally insane patients in a mental institution. When she discovers that she has a rare form of brain cancer and maybe a year to live she decides to surprise her writer husband David (Gordon Currie) and sister Melody (Iris Graham) at their isolated winter cabin to break the news about the tumor. Things are going just as she'd planned until an unexpected guest arrives. Harlan Pyne (Aidan Devine) is a violent sex offender who is convinced that Samantha conducted unethical experiments on him while she was his doctor. Accompanied by his eager to please protege Adrian (Dov Tiefenbach), they force Samantha and her family to participate in sadistic but revealing games.

Director Paul Fox does an incredible job at creating an intense claustrophobic atmosphere and writer Wil Zmack offers up a true psychological thriller. The content of the movie reminded me a bit of Funny Games with a touch of Hide and Seek mixed in. But don't expect the same end result. At first I thought, "Oh yeah, I got this figured out" but after I let it marinate for a bit, I realized I didn't know anything. The whole film is basically left up to the viewers interpretation. If you turn it off because you think you know what's gonna happen, you will miss everything good about it.

The performance by Aidan Devine is just that... Divine and carries the movie into darker and darker territory. In fact, the whole cast brought so much to the table that it's hard to imagine any other crew being able to pull it off. The characters are well defined which makes it easy for you to care what happens to them.

Best of all, Fox doesn't stoop to conventional methods to try and scare the audience. There aren't really any jump scenes and no suddenly loud music. It doesn't make you jump out of your seat, it makes you cringe. There's one part in particular (watch it and you'll know what I'm talking about). It gets the job done at being a taught psychological thriller, but pay attention. Missing five minutes can change your whole outlook of the film. No doubt controversial as you're left to draw your own conclusions. What's the truth? Which way does it really turn out? Did that really happen? If you're the kind of person that likes every detail tied up in a nice little bow, this movie isn't for you.

Because this film is open to so many different interpretations, if you've seen it, I'd love to debate it with you. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you go out and watch it then come back for a debate. =)

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