Greytober Reviews: Dark Was the Night

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Dark Was the Night

I’m actually kinda tired tonight, so here’s hoping I can last through this. I had nothing queued up, and so I’m digging through Netflix, wishing I was using my PS4 so I could entertain myself by yelling at Max (the “help you find something” feature that never finds you anything that I’ve only used on PS3, so I’m actually not sure it works on PS4), but alas, on my Xbox, so I’m digging and I see something in the popular section called Dark Was the Night, and that will be the winner.

Lumberjacks. The movie opens up with trees being cut down and turned into sawdust, and I’m thinking, “IS DEXTER HERE?!” And now everything is all quiet, people are heading home for the weekend, and one guy is on his walkie looking for his buddy Jesse who isn’t answering. Zoom in on that walkie and it’s just laying on the ground. A hand reaches out to grab it, but there’s static and the dude gets in his car to go see what’s up.

There’s nobody there, and he’s a bit creeped out. Then he finds an arm laying on the ground holding a walkie, and blood drips down on him from the body in the tree. He runs back to his car, but instead of driving away he listens to the noise of something approaching him andddddd…..it goes through the back of the car and kills him. Blood everywhere.

Cue title, and a location. The town of Maiden Wood. Ninety miles south of that mauling.

Quiet town, go figure. Quaint, and nobody is out save for the sheriff sitting on the bench, and I recognize the actor. Kevin Durand; he was Blob in Wolverine, Keamy in Lost, and Barry in Resident Evil. I’m cool with this.

He goes off to look into disappearing horses at a farm. Not much he can do about it, and he doesn’t really seem to care either. Guessing this farmer is a pain in the ass.

Sheriff heads home, his name is Paul, and he’s got a wife and son. There’s tension...oh, they’re separated. He left her, she wants to go get therapy together, he stays distant. He’s just here to pick up the son for his night with him.

Paul is a terrible cook. He has the house, the wife stays with her mother, and the kid wants to know when she can come home. Kid wants to know if it’s because of Tim, so whoever Tim is will be a plot point later. Something shadowy moves out the window, the kid sees and is spooked. Son’s name is Adam. He wants his dad to go check, and to take his gun. Paul doesn’t think he needs it, I think he does. They’ve got a big ass backyard, and he’s only packing a flashlight and a badge.

He hears something while calling for whatever is out there, but he sees nothing. It’s darker than shit. When he goes to head back inside he hears something again, but there’s nothing there. Cut to him putting Adam to bed, and I’m waiting for another shadowy figure outside a window.

Tim is the other son. Adam’s room has two twin beds, one is untouched. This makes two dead kid movies in two nights, because of course. How long until there’s a storage locker?

Next morning the deputy shows up while Adam is still asleep and they go out to talk. Or not, there’s some big footprints outside of Adam’s house. Like horse sized, but spaced out like it was running on two legs. So they follow them, and they’re up by the windows, and the deputy lets him know these tracks go all the way through town. Town, where everyone is more than a bit creeped out by this random trail of prints going down the middle of the street.

Paul and Donny (the deputy) follow the tracks into the woods and keep after it, inviting badness. The trees have claw marks, and then the tracks just stop in the middle of the woods. Spooky, but then they just cut back to the sheriff’s office later. They field calls and deal with worried people coming in. Paul calls into the forest department who say that they have no clue what could have done it.

Next up is Paul and a priest that has a missing dog, which is a thing around town right now. He offers to be there for him if he wants to mourn, and lets Paul know that everyone will follow him. Nice guy, I bet his death is horrible.

Paul goes to a store and talks to some people, tries to reassure them, and here’s some theories. Like a town legend, but he shoots it all down and think it’s just kids playing pranks. A hunter stops him to tell him that it’s deer season and there are no deer, so he thinks something is going on.

Off to see the wife and to pick the son back up, it’s been six months since everything happened and she wants to make it work, and he just can’t seem to come up with anything. He really looks like he’s just going through the motions and taking things event by event, whatever happened to the other son must have done a serious number on him, and I’m starting to think that it was his fault in a way. Like his kid found his gun or something. Anyway, he gets to driving with his son and they stop and Adam points something out to him, and Paul goes after it. With a gun this time? That was a crazy looking animal.

He sees it out there and it runs from him, so he gives chase out into the middle of nowhere. He can hear something moving around, but he can’t see it or intimidate it by screaming. He sees some stuff up in the tree, and apparently it’s a collar for one of the missing dogs.

Oh shit, Adam isn’t in the car. Paul is freaking out and then runs into the house, apparently they were just outside their house, but Adam is in the house and safe.

Deputy is at the local bar downing a few while the bartender asks him about it, Donny apparently isn’t from this town, so it’s all new to him. He doesn’t know many town legends, but bartenders know everything. Apparently the white man didn’t do well by the land, so spirits came after them. Once a boy went missing, and they found the body thirty feet up a tree. Deputy is a bit spooked, but heyyyy, hotties at the other end of the bar. Oh well, he just pounds back his glass.

Scene of Paul slowly washing his face helps put over his inner stress, and how hard he’s burying. This is followed by him and his wife with Adam’s teacher who is upset that Adam now says the word “pecker”, which has led to other kids saying it, and they think it’s hilarious. She also points out that Adam only refers to Tim in the present sense, which she finds unhealthy. The mom has had quite enough and goes off on her for daring to tell her how they should refer to their deceased son, or trying to judge her parenting. She goes outside and cries for a moment before leaving, Paul...says nothing. His emotional distance is staggering. He drives past a cemetary and can’t bring himself to do more than look from a distance, which makes me wonder if he goes to Tim’s grave.

Donny is there, well, across the street at the church, they go to talk when all of the sudden there’s a mass random migration of birds overhead. They are getting the hell out of there, and the people should follow. Instead they go to get coffee, Donny is spooked, Paul keeps no-selling it. Donny recounts the bartender's story, Paul no-sell it.

“Bad things happen because people let them happen. Somebody is always responsible.” Huh. Sounds like something a politician should say about gun control.

Donny is out helping a girl get her car working, unloads some backstory. Wait, not just a girl, that’s the wife. She tells him how Tim died, Paul was watching him and Tim slipped in a kiddy pool and hit his head. Could have happened to anyone, but Paul is bearing it all by himself because he’s the only one blaming himself.

Which is what he’s doing now, sitting with his head in his hands in the quiet...until he hears noises and sees something walking through his house. His phone rings before he can look, and it’s back to work. Farmer from earlier is freaking out, he heard something the night before spooking his horses, and tonight he’s ready for it. His daughter isn’t cool with it, and Paul talks him down. He still thinks it’s people and doesn’t want the guy to kill anybody. Then something swings by and breaks the light on the barn behind him. Paul has Donny stay back with the farmer and his hot daughter while he goes to investigate, and ti is really darker than shit. I said it before, worth noting again. He sees something moving, but can’t keep the light on it as it seemingly runs away.

The next morning they’re back, and that barn is scratched up and banged up, and those prints from earlier are right outside. The horse farmer explains how these tracks aren’t horse hoofs. He’s never seen anything like it.

Paul takes the tracks to the internet, and hangs on a wiki page for Windiga. Anything like a Wendigo? Is this movie in Canada? Wendigo’s only happen in Canada.

There’s a mutilated deer while the radio talks about how it’s a bad season for deer hunting.

Paul goes to lunch with the wife and kid, and Adam quickly brings up wanting his mom to come home. The mom tries to get out of it, her name is Susan (thanks wiki!), but Paul lets him know that he still loves his wife, but sometimes there are other things. If they all live, they get back together, my prediction.

Donny is from New York, and every girl in this town is hot. One girl selling him coffee tries to get him talking a bit, and says she wants to go to New York and ride the subway. He seems to like it here.

Another mutilated deer, this one left in the middle of the road for Paul to find. Like a trap. Something running through the forest around him, and of course he takes a look around. It’s between him and the car! A clawed hand! Paul gets back in the car, looks down to turn it on, looks up...deer is gone. Get the fuck out of there! SMART MAN! Drives off before we see a shadowy creature watching him drive off.

Back to town, he needs to talk to Donny about it. He’s finally starting to believe that something is going on, he keeps seeing those claw marks everywhere, and he doesn’t think kids are doing it. Donny thinks that whatever is doing it has always been there, but they’re just now taking notice. So many questions, I’m hooked.

The hunter from earlier starts talking shit to Paul about not being able to protect anyone, and Paul restrains himself.

Hunting party! Three random schmucks? Looks like three random schmucks. Daytime, but that won’t save them. They have no idea what they’re getting into here. At all. Also, they’re crappy hunters that keep moving constantly. One gets spooked by a noise quickly approaching him from behind, turns, shoots, and while they cut to Paul and Donny at their office, I imagine he went full Cheney on one of his hunting buddies by accident.

Donny used to pray, he has a nice job that he was moving up in quickly, a nice girl, and now he prays and thinks that maybe this is where he’s supposed to be. I guess everyone is broken in their own way, Donny feels like maybe his job is to protect someone here. I imagine with his life.

Paul is out to investigate where he found the deer now that the sun is out, and all he can find is the blood in the road. More noises in the woods, and he’s ready to pull his gun. I expect the hunters to come running. Paul calls out for his son, and then one of the hunters grabs him and asks for help. All cut up. Paul takes him back for questioning, and he can’t really describe it beyond how fast it is, and to clarify that the other two guys he was with are dead. They didn’t stand a chance.

I would never live in a place like this. For one, my allergies would murder me, and for two, I’d freak myself out expecting something in the woods.

The douchebag hunter from earlier calls them out to show them some bodies in a tree, I presume the two dead hunters. Paul tells everyone to get out, and puts a ban on anyone going in the woods or being out after nightfall. These deaths aren’t by any animal, and he doesn’t want the body count to climb any further.

On top of that, it starts snowing pretty hard and roads are getting closed. Things are getting creepier. Paul has been calling in other cops to get leads, and he finds out about the loggers from the start of the movie. Going with Donny’s idea that whatever it is has always been there, he assumes that maybe the loggers caused this by cutting down it’s home. Hunter shows up at his door with a video of the woods.

Everything is still up until something moves in front of the camera and knocks it over. He’s even got some pictures of it slowed down to prove it isn’t a deer. Everyone leaves, and cell service is out due to the storm. Everything is quiet, but something is approaching Paul’s house. He can hear it beating on the walls, so he takes Adam and hides him in the bathroom. He can hear something downstairs breaking all of his stuff. Shit is getting real. He tries to walkie out, but he has to be quiet. He manages to say enough to get Donny to rush back.

Beast is walking up the stairs. Adam is hiding in the bathtub. I really hope Paul has his gun. Those are some fucked up legs. Donny shows up with the sirens on and noise blaring, the creature goes out and Paul can hear it moving but can’t really tell what’s happening. He’s going out to find out, and tells Adam to lock the door behind him and not to leave the bathroom.

Donny tries to go to the house but gets tackled by the creature, but he’s alright. New plan from Paul, gather the entire town into the church and stay there tonight. Where he proceeds to tell the town everything that’s happened the last few days. Literally tells them everything, including the story about the loggers and his belief that it’s there looking for food, and that they look mighty tasty. And the next day a dozen rangers will be there to help.

But tonight...tonight will be long.

“This is where we need to be.”

This is a REALLY small town, if this is the full population it’s under twenty people.

Donny is talking to the relaxed native american bartender who is way too cool about this, though his flask might help. Susan and Paul are talking, looking at Adam’s drawings. This moment is way too nice. Like, WAY too nice. Even knowing that there’s a monster, there is nothing tense about it. That’s actually making me tense. For fucks sake, Donny is picking up the priest's daughter in the church with the monster outside. The closest thing to tense is Paul’s refusal to accept that he can help people because of what happened to Tim, but Susan is finally getting through to him. He’s feeling something, finally, owning his thoughts aloud. She lets him know that everyone needs him.

FOR FUCKS SAKE, SOMEBODY DIE ALREADY!

NOISES! It’s there! On the roof! My prayers have been answered! Now it’s at the door, and Paul and Donny get their guns ready in case it doesn’t hold...because it probably won’t. Paul tells everyone to get their asses to the basement, which used to be a fallout shelter (of course it did). Oh for the love of, the lock on this door to the supposed shelter? A cheap slidelock. Paul kisses his wife, tells his son to be strong, and puts Donny in charge of protecting someone. Two of the hunters offer to do that for them so that both cops can go upstairs, and that’s a good display of humanity. Two trained shots offering to help.

Paul and Donny in a dark church with guns and flashlights. The formerly super locked door swinging open. They chase the noises into another room, and everything is red. Like, the lighting, not blood everywhere. Paul has Donny hold back to guard a hallway as he moves forward, not wanting the thing to be able to go back the way it came if it goes through him. Really, this means Paul is on his own hunting this monster...which passes behind Donny anyway. Donny finds some footprints in the ground in a closet, and it’s got him! He manages to aim his shotgun over his shoulder and take a shot, and despite being slashed he’s managed to get free, but now he’s only got his sidearm and Paul is taking his damn sweet time getting there.

This big ass thing is fast and hides well. Donny tells Paul to leave him there, despite the fact that he’s bleeding out, because there are people to save. Paul winds up face to face with it but it wrestles with him as he shoots and he has to run like hell and hide for lack of having a shotgun anymore. He’s sliding under the pews, and this thing is just going to wind up on top of him, isn’t it? Sidearm sidearm sidearm. So much noise getting it out! IT’S ON TOP OF HIM! He gets shots off, and it’s gone again. He finds the footprints and follows them to the door, but a light falls from above him and we can see it climbing on the ceiling and landing in front of him. We actually get a good look at the thing, too, as it tackles him down. Nasty looking fucker. Paul starts stabbing it...which seems to work a lot better than shooting it.

If this is a Wendigo, then X-Men has been lying to me. This isn’t white and furry at all!

Paul is laying there, bloody, but manages to pull himself up to let everyone know that it’s safe. Dude is a superhero, and now I think he’s probably going to turn into one, too. Just because.

Donny isn’t dead, and gets the priest’s daughter. Everyone files out into the church, but nobody looks at the body. Paul and Donny go up to it...please be alive.

“It’s over now”.

PLEASE ATTACK THEM!

Donny says he took a chunk out of it’s shoulder, but this one doesn’t have that damage.

And then we see the outside of the church, where there are a lot of them scaling the building and approaching it, then one turns to the camera and snaps at it.

The end.

Totally saved the finish by putting in the implications that every single person there is about to die a horrible death.

Still pissed at finding out that X-Men has been lying to me for years. Wendigo’s are white furry Canadian monsters born of cannibalism on Canadian soil. These things were damn near reptilian when you got a decent look at them. Gray, seemingly scaly, climbing freely over things? Childhood ruined.

Honestly, the monsters, my X-Men whining aside, were the weakest part of the movie once one was shown in full view. They were scarier without the bad CGI.

Paul and Donny being seemingly unkillable also hurt the movie. Normally in a movie like this you’ve got nameless or essentially nameless people to die as fodder while the main characters barely escape with their lives. Having the nameless fodder being the hunters that let the other nameless hunter get free to warn them didn’t generate that effect. Now, the town was tiny as hell, and even two cops seems like overkill, but I would have been happier if they had one or two more to die in front of Paul or Donny. As it stands, they were supercops that could survive anything thrown at them. For fucks sake, one of them tore the crap out of Donny, and he was still healthy enough to make out with the priest's daughter at the end. There’s an honest fear in my mind that if the movie went five more minutes, we’d have seen Paul and Donny go super soldier on the horde of Windigo.

Final score: Six hungry, murderous, X-Men lied to me, Wendigo’s out of ten

 
Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0