The Dark Offers Little Illumination of Plot

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The Dark DVD

THE DARK is where Director Justin P. Lange keeps his audience as this urban legend style horror plays out on the screen. We open with a very nervous, somewhat religious man, Josef Hofer (KARL MARKOVICS) making his presence known as a dangerous individual looking to get directions to a place called Devil's Den, where the locals know not to go. Josef is wanted for a kidnapping, and his name and face are still being broadcast on the news, making this kidnapping a relatively recent event.

In the woods of Devil's Den, he finds an empty house, which is quite clearly still occupied. The occupant is the sallow-skinned, deformed Mina (NADIA ALEXANDER), who is something of a flesh-eating teenaged axe murderer. She's also, apparently, undead to some degree, as her skin is cold, she's impervious to pain, and has trouble digesting food made for normal humans, all of which are plot points clearly established in Lange's story.

When Mina dispatches Josef, his story is over, and we find that he had kidnapped a boy, Alex (TOBY NICHOLS), whom he had blinded by burning the skin around his eyes. Alex is frightened, but is desperate to relocate Josef, exhibiting a form of Stockholm Syndrome. He references "rules" that Josef taught him, and his scars are largely healed over, which would make it seem that Josef has held the boy captive for longer than the initial news report would indicate.

When Mina finds Alex in the back of Josef's car, she chooses not to kill him, perhaps seeing a kindred spirit in his facial scars. He, too, has been abused, like her, and suffers for it. As the film sluggishly progresses, we get bits and pieces of Mina's backstory, finding out how she became who she was. And as she continues to try to help Alex -- who doesn't seem to really want the help he asks for -- we watch as Mina slowly loses all the undead attributes about her, adding some sort of supernatural element to the film that doesn't really have a basis for existence.

Why Josef kidnapped Alex, what he hoped to accomplish in Devil's Den, and who his referenced associates may have been are all things that are dangling plot threads. We will never know, and as Alex is left screaming for Mina as he is taken in for treatment and return to his family, Mina undergoes her final transformation to normal human girl.

The makeup and effects of THE DARK are simply outstanding in the way they are disturbing to look at. Both Mina and Alex will unsettle the viewer, and the gore effects are particularly well done. My issues with this horror flick aren't with the style, but with the plot, which seems to meander only as a means to show that there was a redemptive path for Mina to be had, and all those dead bodies left in her wake won't have a consequence, as she was an innocent victim first.

 

Grade: 
3.0 / 5.0