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Belittling Horror Excessively: Dark Was The Night07:29 PM -- Wed October 14, 2015

Dark Was The Night

My Review: Well, that’s a silly title. Dark still is the night, by the way. So, these people live in a small town and suddenly all the animals are fleeing the surrounding woods, and cattle are disappearing and all that stuff, and strange hoof-prints are appearing all over town, so you know something bad is around. It’s not long before the sheriff figures out there’s some sort of big scary animal out there and he tries to protect the people and kinda-sorta hunt it. It really echoes Jaws in a lot of ways, probably intentionally, with this lurking beast out there out of sight and the mass panic and the sheriff who is on the case. But it’s also extremely grim and bleak throughout, for no real reason - everybody is super mopey and depressed, the whole movie is filtered in blues and greys, and it’s really a wonder they don’t just let the monster eat them to get life over with.

This is a very well-done movie, and for most of the duration, I was pretty hooked. It feels slow at times because of the super depressing tone, but that also lends it an air of dread as well. It’s not actually a great movie though. The plot does nothing spectacular, it’s all about what you’d expect, with a lot of very basic Hollywood cliches (the sheriff is distraught over having failed to save his son’s life in the past, so that drives his obsession with protecting the town now; the deputy is new to town and getting involved with some girl), but it’s all put together really well.

SPOILER PARAGRAPH! There is a final-final twist in the last fifteen seconds of the movie which is actually pretty shocking and unexpected. It’s the standard horror trope of “the monster is not gone!” only really amped up in a scary way. So that was enjoyable to see, but it again comes down to what I’ve harped on with a couple of the previous films: you can’t end the movie there. If the threat still exists (and hasn’t even left the area), and the characters are still alive, then the movie is not done. In this particular case, I can 100% guarantee that every character in the movie would be dead within the next half hour if the movie continued. So I guess in that sense, this is a valid ending, but “everybody dies” is also a pretty dumb ending, especially after working so hard to find redemption for the main character. They were just going for the shock, like so many horror movies do, and it worked well in that regard, but that little trick is really anti-storytelling. I understand the classic “hand pops up from the grave”, because that one just says that we’re going to have a sequel. Something like this (or what happened in The Guest or Haunt) really does leave the narrative hanging. It’s not a sequel, it’s this story that you forgot to finish.

My Rating: 3.5/5 Bridle #88s.

My Movie Idea: My movie idea is a similar premise to begin with: Cattle are turning up sliced apart, people are hearing noises at night, there are strange animal prints in the mud, all these clues that some kind of big bad monster is lurking outside of town. So the town gathers up a posse and they comb the woods, everybody doing their part to ferret out this monster (monster ferret?).

Twist time! There isn’t a monster. Someone faked the whole thing, and obviously it’s someone with serious issues since they cut up living cows to do it. He’s a member of the posse hunting the monster of course, and he’s set up traps in the woods to murder tons of townspeople. It’s an insidious thing where you still think there’s a monster at first as people get yanked into bushes and blood flies out (but it was really a rope trap of some kind). Then you learn that these are traps after a couple of them, but then you’re wondering “wow, super intelligent monster?” before you finally get to the revelation that it’s one of the people in the posse who arranged all this killing. And he finishes it all by ‘finding’ the monster’s lair in a cave (perhaps with some recorded monster noises coming out of it so they know they’ve got it trapped), getting lots of people to go in, and blowing up the cave. Truly, man is the worst monster of all.

You could also swap scenes back and forth with a hero who is working in the police lab trying to figure out what animal makes these wounds while everyone is out hunting, and they could save the day by realizing it’s a person, figuring out who it has to be, and showing up just in time to stop the cave-in explosion. Or better yet, they don’t figure out who it is, they show up just in time, but there are 3 or 4 people outside the cave who haven’t gone in... which one is it, and how can we stop him before he sets off the bomb? Actually, this movie sounds pretty cool. Get on that, Christopher Nolan.

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