Dark was the Night (Blu-ray) (2014)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 11-Nov-2015

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama/Horror Reversible Cover
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 98:20
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jack Heller
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Kevin Durand
Lucas Haas
Bianca Kajlich
Ethan Khusidman
Nick Damici
Heath Freeman
Sabina Gadecki


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Darren Morze


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Commercial logging in an old forest has displaced something ancient from its habitat and sent it towards the tiny town of Maiden Woods, where animals start to go missing and mysterious cloven hoofed prints appear in the snow, spooking the inhabitants. Sheriff Paul Shields (Kevin Durand) has enough troubles of this own without this added complication: after a family tragedy, for which Shields blames himself, his wife Susan (Bianca Kajlich) has left him, taking their young son Adam (Ethan Khusidman) with her. Shields is well known and respected in the town, although the people are wary of his deputy Danny Saunders (Lucas Haas), who has recently moved to this remote small town from New York.

     Initially sceptical of tales about an ancient creature in the woods spread by Earl (Nick Damici) the lawmen come to suspect that something is indeed stalking the town, a realisation confirmed when a party of hunters in the woods are attacked and two killed. As a snowstorm blankets the region, closing off the roads and delaying help, Shields gathers the townspeople into the church where he will fight both the demons inside himself and the creature outside throughout the long night.

     Dark was the Night is only the second feature for Jack Heller, after Enter Nowhere (2011), and it is also writer Tyler Hisel’s second credit. Thus it is little surprise that the film breaks no new ground and regularly uses tried and true horror film techniques, such as things seen fleetingly through windows or in trees accompanied by a bump in the sound design, a POV of something creeping up onto a character when something may, or may not, happen or rustles in the bushes. The film also makes an advantage of the low budget by not showing the creature in full until the 87th minute. We also know something that the characters do not; we saw from the carnage in the pre-credit sequence in the logging camp that something was indeed out there which increases the tension when things start going bump in the night in Maiden Woods and the sceptical Sheriffs investigate. The film is not obvious in other ways; one could anticipate, incorrectly as it turns out, that the character who is most annoying and challenges Shields, Jim (Heath Freeman), would be the first to get killed while no one in the film does stupid things like walking into the woods alone at night!! Which is a relief.

     In this sense, and others, Dark was the Night is not a slasher film for the youth audience, as so many horror films are, but a mature horror film for an adult audience. There are scares for sure, and good ones well delivered, but the crux of the film is a character arc driven by the guilt felt by Shields and the tender, sad and tentative relationship he has with his estranged wife and his young son. In this role Kevin Durand is sensational. He has 66 credits listed in the IMDb, generally TV and minor roles, but here he anchors the film with a performance that is subtle and compelling; we feel his guilt and anguish and are right with him as he works through the mysteries, both internal and external. His relationship with Bianca Kajlich is well played and believable, as, to a lesser extend, is his relationship with Lucas Haas, another experienced actor with 86 credits.

     Dark was the Night may not cover any new territory, but it works! The writing is tight, except for a few exposition scenes, the characters are believable and people we can care about, nice scares are in place and the film builds well towards its climax in the church. As noted, the creature is not revealed in full until right at the end, which is probably a good thing as it is rather underwhelming when we do see it. But the film makes up for this by delivering a twist at the end that is well worth waiting for.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Dark was the Night is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code, close to the 2.35:1 original ratio.

     I have some issues with the video due to the choices made by the filmmakers. Dark was the Night has a winter setting, with grey skies and snow falling, but the filmmakers have chosen to take much of the colour out of the film in exterior scenes leaving an over-bright, silvery look to the trees and skin tones. Interiors are more natural, with deeper colours, although under lights skin tones evince a digital yellowish look. Some night scenes with lights are over glossy (see 46:54 for instance) but fortunately most night sequences are fine, with rock solid blacks and excellent shadow detail that allows the audience to see only as much of the indistinct creature we are intended to see. Otherwise detail was crisp, contrast and brightness consistent.

     There was occasionally slight motion blur against trees, but otherwise I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     English DTS-HD MA 5.1 is the only audio option.

     Unlike the video, I have no reservations about the audio, which delivers exactly the sound design a horror film requires. Dialogue was clear, centred and easy to hear. The surrounds and rears provided the subtle sounds of noises in the woods, including some that paned around the sound stage, creaks, footsteps and birds overhead while the gunshots had a good resonance. The sound design also added a bump when something flashed through the frame. The score by Darren Morze was also suitably atmospheric and creepy; it was well represented in the mix, aiding the visuals without ever seeming too loud. The sub-woofer did not draw attention to itself but effectively added bass to scares, footsteps and the music.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras. The Blu-ray cover has a reversible sleeve with an alternative cover while the menu offers only Play Film and Chapters.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region A US release of Dark was the Night has English SDH and Spanish subtitles and includes as extras a short behind the scenes featurette (7:34) and a Q&A at Screamfest (8:38). These would give that release the win, but the extras are not extensive and it hardly seems worth importing.

Summary

     I really enjoyed Dark was the Night, a character driven horror film rather than a slasher horror full of nubile young things, gore and silly moments. There is little that is original but the film works due an intelligent script, some nice scary moments and an excellent central performance by Kevin Durand.

     The video is over manipulated due to the filmmakers’ choices, the audio is excellent. No extras, not even the minor ones available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE