Case Number 20810: Small Claims Court


Anchor Bay // 2010 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Ike Oden (Retired) // March 2nd, 2011

The Charge

Great title. Boring movie.

The Case

Stephanie (Amber Heard, Drive Angry) and Ellie (Odette Yustman, The Unborn), a pair of college students vacationing in Argentina, break off from their bicycle tour looking for adventure. They end up in a rural town where a series of hard-partying mishaps cause them to miss their bus back home. Subsequently, they wind up squabbling and separate. Stephanie makes it back to town, but Ellie seemingly disappears. With no help from the locals and apathy from the police, Stephanie enlists the aid of a hunky American (Karl Urban, Doom) who may know more about Ellie's disappearance than he lets on.

Okay, let me keep this short. And Soon The Darkness is a boring, boring movie. It's a remake of an obscure, British suspense film that I've never seen, making my opinion of the piece untouched by any overweening comparison between the two. I sort of doubt fans of the original will even bother with the remake, which seems to be pitching itself more to teenagers than to hardcore horror/mystery film fans.

I haven't seen The Stepfather or Prom Night remakes (the former of which also starred Heard), but I imagine they play out sort of like And Soon The Darkness -- take tepidly written, gorgeously cast characters, throw them into a predictable mystery plot involving some boring villains, hire a great cinematographer (Gabriel Bristain) and a director with a sense of style over story (Marcos Efron), and you've got a fine recipe for your own version of And Soon The Darkness. The film's R rating is unjust as the film contains very little violence and no foul language aside from a brief sexual reference. It's PG-13 entertainment through and through, tailor made not to offend anyone's 13-year-old daughters.

I feel really bad for Karl Urban, an actor I've always really liked. He has a lot of range and genuine screen presence that is hideously wasted on a boring "Is-he-or-isn't-he-in-on-it" character. Urban looks so confused and bored in his scenes that it makes my stomach turn. Say what you will about his participation in something like Doom -- at least it's a property and with a proactive character. Urban is just sort of there in And Soon The Darkness, though I'm sure the experience of a free trip to Argentina with Amber Heard and Odette Yustman had something to do with his participation.

I can't really blame him, either. Both actresses look great, are shot beautifully, and genuinely try to imbed their characters with some sort of depth. They fail just a teensy bit, but the screenplay is so paper thin that I'm not entirely sure why they committed to playing stock characters in what is essentially a castrato version of Turistas or Hostel. Maybe it was the free trip to Argentina with Karl Urban (he's dreamy).

Anchor Bay gives And Soon The Darkness's DVD fine image quality, with a very sharp with minimal grain and a nice saturated color palette. The sound mix is equally good, bumping some subtle sound effects and a not-so-subtle techno score. The dialogue is very clear as well, though it sort of just goes in one ear and out the other. Extras are pretty standard -- deleted scenes, a director's video diary, and a commentary with the director, editor, and cinematographer.

The Verdict

And soon the snoozefest. Guilty.

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile
Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* English (SDH)
* Spanish

Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Deleted Scenes
* Featurette

* IMDb