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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Marcos Efron
Cast:
Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban, Gia Mantegna, Adriana Barraza, César Vianco, Michel Noher
Writing Credits:
Jennifer Derwingson, Marcos Efron , Brian Clemens (1970 film, And Soon the Darkness), Terry Nation (1970 film, And Soon the Darkness)

Tagline:
Alone. Stranded. No One to Trust.

Synopsis:
Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie’s (Odette Yustman) vacation to an exotic village in Argentina is a perfect ‘girl’s getaway’ to bask in the sun, shop and flirt with the handsome locals. After a long night of bar-hopping, the girls get into an argument, and Stephanie heads out alone in the morning to cool off. But when she returns, Ellie has disappeared. Finding signs of a struggle, Stephanie fears the worst, and turns to the police for help. But the local authorities have their hands full already - with a string of unsolved kidnappings targeting young female tourists. Skeptical of the sheriff’s competency, she enlists help from Michael (Karl Urban), an American ex-pat staying at their hotel. Together they go on a frantic search for Ellie, but Stephanie soon realizes that trusting his seemingly good intentions may drag her farther from the truth. With danger mounting, and time running out, Stephanie must find her friend before darkness falls.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/16X9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $26.97
Release Date: 12/28/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Marcos Efron, Editor Todd E. Miller and Director of Photography Gabriel Beristain
• “Director’s Video Diary”
• Deleted Scenes
• Trailer
• Previews


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And Soon The Darkness (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 10, 2011)

Among the many remakes of well-known horror films, new versions of obscure flicks also occasionally appear. In that category comes 2010’s And Soon the Darkness, a modern take on a 1970 effort.

20-something pals Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman) take a “girls” bicycling trip through Argentina. They plan to spend one night in a small village, but their stay gets extended when they miss their bus.

All seems fine during the day, as they explore the countryside. Eventually they bicker, however, and Stephanie storms off in a huff. Ellie apologizes before long and they agree to meet at a local establishment, but Ellie never shows. This sets Stephanie on a frustrating journey to locate her missing friend.

If you judge Darkness on its title, you’d assume it’s a vampire movie, or at least something the deals with supernatural beasties. If you judge Darkness on its box art, you’d assume it’s “torture porn” in the same style as flicks like Hostel.

In truth, Darkness falls into neither category, though it obviously comes much closer to the Hostel template of hot people in foreign countries who get abducted for illicit purposes. The opening to Darkness even implies that it’ll follow the same torture-filled path, but it doesn’t.

Which means although I described it earlier as a horror film, Darkness maintains a tenuous connection with that genre. Most of it comes closer to the mystery realm, as Stephanie tries to sort out clues and find her friend. The final act then reads more like a violent thriller. I suppose it still qualifies as horror in the same vein as other flicks with victims who flee ominous forces, but it remains loosely connected to the genre.

One trait Darkness shares with many horror films nearly becomes its Achilles heel: the presence of really, really stupid young leads. From the very start, it paints Ellie as a reckless idiot; not only do we expect something bad to happen to her, but also we almost look forward to the inevitable downward turn. She’s just such a moron that it’s hard to feel bad for her.

Though the movie depicts Stephanie as the responsible, grounded one, she shows plenty of dopiness as well. Most of these moronic choices emerge as she looks for her friend; Stephanie makes a series of eyeroll-worthy decisions that don’t seem particularly logical. Sure, I suppose any of us would be off-kilter in a similar circumstance, but she consistently chooses paths that appear counterintuitive.

The lack of logic spreads to other characters as well and robs the movie of much tension. So much of the film stretches credulity that it falters in connected ways. When we don’t swallow the characters’ actions as sensible, we don’t invest in them or the story. We’re too busy wishing we could slap them upside their heads to care about what happens to them.

It doesn’t help that Darkness comes with such a pedestrian plot. After other flicks like the aforementioned Hostel, a movie that concentrates on a basic abduction plot without any unique twist just seems flat. Granted, I didn’t like Hostel, but at least it did more than follow a standard thriller template.

I can’t say the same for Darkness. It’s not a bad movie, but it lacks zest or originality. The film follows an ordinary plot and doesn’t add enough spice or twists to redeem its bland story.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

And Soon the Darkness appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though it never excelled, the presentation worked well for a standard-def DVD.

Sharpness was usually good. Wide shots displayed a bit of softness, but those instances remained with the boundaries expected from the format. Most of the movie demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. I noticed no issues with jaggies or edge haloes, but some blockiness occurred on a couple occasions. Digital artifacts were minor, and print flaws remained absent.

Despite the film’s sunny setting, it tended toward an amber palette, and it got even more desaturated during scenes that featured story nastiness. Though not impressive, the hues looked fine and displayed the appropriate tones. Blacks were dark and tight, and shadows looked nice; they appeared smooth and clear. Overall, I felt this was a generally positive presentation.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Darkness, it seemed good. Though not a tremendously ambitious mix, it opened up the action well. As one might expect from this sort of flick, the audio emphasized creepy ambiance. The mix conveyed a dire sense of circumstances and worked nicely in that regard. A few more active scenes appeared, but usually the track stayed with this environmental material. Along with eerie music, these pieces filled out the room neatly.

The various elements also boasted strong quality. Speech remained crisp and natural, and the lines lacked edginess or other concerns. Effects seemed clear and dynamic, with good punch and range. Music was also positive, as the score demonstrated nice life and vivacity. I liked the soundtrack and thought it worked for the film.

We find a smattering of extras here. An audio commentary comes from director Marcos Efron, editor Todd E. Miller and director of photography Gabriel Beristain. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at sets and locations, cast and performances, adapting the original movie and story/character topics, cinematography, editing and music, sound design, and a few other areas.

Expect a good but not scintillating commentary. The three guys cover the movie well, and they keep things moving at a nice pace, though. While we don’t get a fascinating chat, the track does what it needs to do.

Under Director’s Video Diary, we locate an 11-minute, 11-second reel. As it runs, we see a mix of movie clips and behind the scenes video; Efron provides commentary about locations and various aspects of the shoot. Some of the info repeats from the commentary, but we get a reasonable amount of new material, and the video footage adds spice.

Four Deleted Scenes fill six minutes, 44 seconds. The first two show a little more of Ellie and Stephanie on vacation, and the other pair follow Stephanie’s search for her friend. None of these add to the story, though it’s nice to see extra footage of Yustman and Heard in bikinis.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Let Me In and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. We also find the trailer for Darkness and a promo for Altitude.

I don’t know if the original And Soon the Darkness offered a good film, but the 2010 remake seems consistently mediocre. It suffers from a stale plot and a general lack of creativity. The DVD provides good picture and audio along with some decent supplements. I think this is a fairly positive DVD for a forgettable film.

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