At this point, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that any and every film that Dark Sky Films releases will be a great one. Obviously some are better than others, but I can honestly say that all of the releases that I own from this company have been extremely enjoyable in one way or another. Their latest release, Conor McMahon’s From the Dark, is no different and is a worthy entry in the vampire sub-genre.
A young couple, Mark and Sarah, experience some car trouble when they set out on a trip along the Irish countryside. In search of a nearby house to find some assistance, Mark stumbles across a man who has been badly wounded. He returns to the stranded car where he has left Sarah, so the two can more properly provide help for the clearly injured stranger. They return to the house, only to find it pitch black. It isn’t long before they realize the man is something more and there is another evil being stalking the house, as well…
When I received my copy of From the Dark, I had no idea what I was getting into; I did not remember reading any plot details or have any inkling of what the story was about. So, I popped it in my ps3, where I tend to watch all of my movies, sat through all of the trailers before the feature (in case I missed any other great recent releases), and eagerly pressed play. After approximately five minutes, I knew what was in store! The man who I’ve referred to as the “injured stranger” above happens to uncover a stake and a pointy-nailed creature who attacks him and bites his neck… what we have here is a modern-day vampire movie, my friends!
As soon as I realized this was going to be a vampire film of sorts, my excitement grew stronger. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really good, new take on the vampire sub-genre. Sure, I enjoyed Dracula Untold recently, but that isn’t necessarily a new take on the famous creatures, more of just a re-imagining of the original vampire, himself. On top of this, I haven’t watched a great Irish horror flick in a while either.
From the Dark starts off strong and doesn’t let up until the very end. We are quickly introduced to the menacing creature, without giving away too much; We see shots of it, but aren’t fully exposed, keeping the mystery and suspense at a high level the entire time. What you do see will remind you of a creature similar in design and feel to that of an early Nosferatu. Bald head, pointy ears, and long sharp fingernails feel familiar, but in a modern setting like this, also invokes a refreshing feeling.
The entire cast consists of a total of four individuals — the older gentleman who was bitten and turned, the original monster, and the couple. Stephen Cromwell was great as Mark, but after being left virtually incapacitated by an encounter with the creature, it is actress Niamh Algar who really gets to shine, in turn delivering a truly bad-ass performance. It seems kind of rare these days to have a really strong female lead in a horror film, set aside the typical ‘survivor girls’ or ‘final girls’ of your slasher films, but From the Dark’s writer/director/producer was able to change all of that when creating and casting the role of Sarah. Algar was impressive throughout the film’s entire 90 minutes and as much as I love monsters and creatures, I was rooting for her the whole time. I was blown away by her performance and hope to see her in more films, in the future.
From the Dark does not rely too heavily on blood and gore, but the few times where special effects are called for, you won’t be disappointed. Mark’s ripped up leg, a stake through the foot, and a few other spots I don’t want to spoil all look amazing. They were also all done with practical effects, which is huge in this day and age, so I know you guys will all appreciate this film that much more. Throw in some cuts from the creatures point of view, a new take on vamps that sees them harmed by all forms of light, including flashlights (reminiscent of the video game Alan Wake), and an incredible sense of lighting, shadows, and suspense in general, and you have yourself one kick ass movie.
If you’re a fan of vampires and independent filmmaking, From the Dark is certainly a film you will want to support. It is original and effective and should be part of every horror fans’ collection. You can purchase a copy on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download today from MPI and Dark Sky Films.
I loved this movie and give it 4 smashed-out tractor headlights out of 5.