Directed by Lluis Quilez
Distributed by Vertical Entertainment
In most horror movies, art TRULY can imitate life (and vice versa) – some spooky sights and sounds, gloomy overtones, and infinitely moronic parents who couldn’t keep track of their children if they were rigged with LED lights while towing a 500-pound lead weight strapped to their ankles; and with director Lluis Quilez’s haunted house exertion Out of the Dark, no greater facsimile could be present than that of all of the prior characteristics that I’ve mentioned… especially the dumb parents.
Our less-than-perceptive progenitors are portrayed by Julia Stiles and Scott Speedman, who as Paul and Sarah Harriman, along with their sweeter-than-sugar daughter, little Hannah (Pixie Davies), are offered the opportunity to take over Sarah’s father’s manufacturing plant in Colombia. Dear old Dad is enacted by Stephen Rea, who offers us the doting grandpa image with a side of backhanded swindler to boot.
The happy family is provided a beautiful home in which to reside that was the scene of a horrific crime some time ago, and now that the blood has been washed away, along with all traces of any wrongdoing, our new residents are gullible and ready to move in. As a local holiday approaches that commemorates Spanish conquistadors locking scores of children in a temple and setting them ablaze (morbid, indeed), we gain a foothold of just who (or what) will be our main source of frights in the film.
Now, on to the uber-attentive skills that Paul and Sarah are blessed with, as wee little Hannah manages to wander off at multiple intervals during the movie, some with quick-locating results and others with frightening aftermaths… okay, not really overly terrifying, but I’m trying to paint the picture here of a couple of people who lose a kid at the drop of a hat, then drop the stink eye on those who opt to bring attention towards their deficient observational savvy. After little Hannah’s final disappearance, it comes to light that the souls of the deceased children are the cause of all the distress. Blindfolded, burn-scarred, and not really shiver-worthy, their appearance is lacking in the scare department.
For a feature that pushes 90-plus minutes, there are more than just a few slogging scenes, unfortunately with little or no reward at the end, and performance wise, the three-headed dragon consisting of Stiles, Speedman and Rea limps harmlessly through the film with little Pixie providing the early chops to outshine them all.
As the movie drew to a close and I stopped glaring at the clock on my wall, I was relieved to arrive at a conclusion that some could grasp as “lackluster,” and suffice to say, I’d much rather be in the dark than out of this one.