And Soon the Darkness (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Amber Heard, Karl Urban, Odette Yustman, Gia Mantegna, Adriana Barrazai
Directed by Marcos Efron
Distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment
In 1970 Robert Fuest directed a British thriller called And Soon the Darkness, which would go on to garner acclaim for being a suspenseful and at times scary little thriller. This is not that movie. It may share some thematic similarities to the original, but it certainly does not share its thrills and chills.
In for original actresses Pamela Franklin and Michele Dotrice, we have Amber Heard and Odette Yustman, and instead of the rural French countryside, this flick takes place in a truly beautiful part of Argentina, which ends up being the biggest and best character in this rather flaccid affair.
As the story goes ... two friends (Heard and Yustman) are bike riding through Argentina when suddenly they separate due in part to frustrations with each other and one hell of a whiny argument. Upon splitting up, one of them is kidnapped, and it's up to her now guilt-ridden amiga to find and rescue her. Of course she has some help along the way from a mysterious stranger named Mike (Urban) and the local police chief played by someone who has to be the Latino love child of Willem Dafoe, Anthony Perkins, and Roddy McDowall. As you would expect, twists and turns abound, most of which you can pretty much see coming from a mile away, but even that isn't the biggest problem here.
Director Efron has so many different things he can work with, and the only one that he properly utilizes is the film's Argentinian setting. Karl Urban's character goes nowhere and does nothing. In fact, he could have been completely omitted from the film with little to no impact. All of the local townspeople, who have the perfect opportunity to lay the creepy vibe on thick, are only there to ignore our protagonist and occasionally scowl, and even though things get a little cat and mousy here and there, there's never any feeling of urgency or tension.
That's not to say that And Soon the Darkness does everything wrong. The actors do their best with what they have, and the film is shot incredibly well. You've just seen it all already dozens of times by now and done much better. Even the horrible Turistas managed to generate more suspense than this film, and that's saying something.
In terms of Blu-ray vs. DVD, each package shares the same set of special features, but holy cow, does the Blu look stunning. The DVD does hold its own as best it can, but there's no denying the brilliance of the 1080p transfer here. It's truly eye-popping.
In terms of the supplemental material, just like the film itself, it's all quite generic. There's a pleasantly lively commentary track with director Marcos Efron, editor Todd Miller, and the man who delivers above and beyond here - director of photography Gabriel Beristain; and from there we have an eleven-minute video diary that's home to your standard behind-the-scenes footage, six minutes of deleted scenes presented here in 480p, and a theatrical trailer. Totally cookie-cutter stuff.
This new version of And Soon the Darkness feels like it was stamped off of the decades old thriller assembly line. It brings nothing new or interesting to the table. As is most always the case with remakes, if you want to see the film done right, stick to the source material. Unless of course you're looking to check out the beautiful Argentinian countryside. If that's your bag, then this could be your movie of the year.
2 1/2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
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