Anchor Bay // 2010 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // December 28th, 2010
A perfect vacation, a terrifying nightmare.
A shamefully unoriginal foray into bad horror, And Soon The Darkness (Blu-ray) is the story of two nubile teens who visit the foreign country of Murderia, a land where all secondary characters fail to speak English. Then, on the very last day of their perfect trip, they miss the bus out of Murderia (what bad luck!) and spend the next hour and a half getting murdered.
You have literally seen this film seven thousand times. There is no reason to see it again.
Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman) are vacationing in rural Argentina, basking in the sun and the boys, flirting and shopping through the countryside. But after missing their bus back to civilization, Stephanie loses track of Ellie and finds no help from the locals or the police in tracking her down. Enlisting the help of a mysterious ex-pat, Michael (Karl Urban), himself looking for a missing woman, the two try and find Ellie before it is too late!
I can report with perfect accuracy that it took exactly fourteen minutes for me to lose all respect for And Soon The Darkness. I used a stopwatch. In the scene, the brunette -- the wild girl, the one who likes random sex -- was singing noisily in the local dive bar in Murderia, attracting the unwanted attention of the sinister-looking gentlemen in the corner; all the while, the blonde girl -- the innocent and tender one -- looks on disapprovingly. This was also the point in which my brain ejected itself from my ear and parachuted to safety, never to return. This was a smart move in retrospect.
And Soon The Darkness re-hashes the same tired clichés, the same boring tropes and improbable circumstances, the same unpleasant torturing that dozens upon dozens of horror films have previously tread upon. Ninety minutes go by, and the film ends, adding not a single original idea to the melting pot of horror cinema. To add insult to injury, And Soon The Darkness is a remake of a 1970 British thriller of the same name; a film that the New York Times described at the time as displaying "poverty of imagination." This reviewer finds it maddening and disheartening that forty years of cinematic progress have failed to improve upon this observation. Talk about an unnecessary remake.
Listen, I enjoy a good slasher film as much as the next red-blooded North American, but films like this just make me despair. I cannot help pondering why we, as a society, are still making films like And Soon The Darkness. Are we so wholly bankrupt on creativity? Are we so lacking dignity and grace that we need to endlessly re-create the murdering of two skinny American girls hunted and tortured in a foreign country, movie after movie? Would it be so tantamount to blasphemy to add an original idea into the mix, just to breathe a tiny bit of life into a dangerously stagnant genre?
If you really, and I mean really love horror films, and demand a certain level of predictability to your slasher films, then And Soon The Darkness might not be a total wash. Eschewing all original thoughts and expectations for a moment, the actors show up and deliver their lines with the expected levels of faux-horror and faux-terror. If you can ignore the painfully obvious questions, like how two girls with working Blackberry phones utterly fail to problem solve their way out of the most basic Spanish-language conversation pitfalls (hello, there's an app for that, ladies) then And Soon The Darkness might make a satisfactory rental, assuming you have checked out virtually every other slasher film from of the store already.
From a purely aesthetic standpoint, And Soon The Darkness (Blu-ray) looks fantastic. Shot on location in beautiful rural Argentina, the 1080p transfer is as crisp and clean as you could hope, with a muted color palate favoring reds and yellows. Certain sequences (usually involving torture) are almost entirely colorless, drained of all life, with excessive grain and grittiness; an overused but effective trick. Detail is sharp, blacks are average and whites are bright.
Audio is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation, which is as strong and effective of a transfer as one can hope for a slasher film: low throbbing bass, subtle audio pans that sweep across channels menacingly, a sharp attention to subtle environmental details like footfalls. Dialogue is clean and audible, but mixed slightly quiet. While not as sparkling and crisp as some other lossless transfers, And Soon The Darkness (Blu-ray) sounds splendid; a by-the-book HD treatment of a by-the-book horror film.
Extras are slim. We get a commentary track with director Marcos Efron, editor Todd Miller and DP Gabriel Beristan. A director's video diary runs a measly eleven minutes, and we get some deleted scenes thrown in for good measure. The video diary is okay, in that we get some nice behind-the-scenes footage of rural Argentina.
And Soon The Darkness sounds like the name of the baddest of bad heavy metal bands. I wholeheartedly approve of the title of this film -- just not the contents.
Perfectly terrifying, but for all the wrong reasons, And Soon The Darkness is as pedantic and predictable as horror films get, suitable only for the most extremely bored Blu-ray renter.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Video Diary
* Official Site