From a slow burn, to a frantic finale, Between The Darkness (also known as Come, Said the Night) is a horror film following in the footsteps of the more modern age of horror. With a feel that is reminiscent of Hereditary mixed with a little bit of Kevin Smith’s Red State, Between the Darkness carves out its own little piece of the supernatural/spirituality genre and nestles in nicely. The film itself is an atmospheric thrill ride through human psyche and spirituality.
Starring Danielle Harris, Lew Temple, and Nicole Moorea Sherman, it does carry a bit of star power for a relatively indie project – with Danielle being known for her roles in Halloween 4 and 5 and then again in the Rob Zombie reboots, the woman knows horror and knows how to act them – though her scream queen chops weren’t entirely on display here, she does fill her role splendidly and is as lovely as ever. Despite a strong performance from the small cast, which plays into the strengths of the film, the stand out performance most certainly comes from Lew Temple (The Devil’s Rejects).
What starts as a family trip to their “Sanctuary,” it’s soon discovered that the Grady’s are there to pay respects to their lost family member – Roy’s daughter – on the one year anniversary of what is believed to be her death, however the family mourns in an unfamiliar way, by paying respects to gods lost to time. As the story unfolds, its revealed that they are a reclusive pagan lot, who greatly fear the outside world. It’s a unique take on the whole Westborough Baptist Church plot device which keeps things interesting, but it’s also familiar enough to be relatable to anybody who’s ever followed such a phenomenon.
As I mentioned, Lew Temple steals the show here. Is portrayal of Roy is perfect. Despite the characters quirks and flaws, you believe him as a father doing his best to raise two kids on his own. Compassion and empathy just oozes off of him in the first act, and even as the story advances, you feel for the character, even as more and more of his character traits crack, revealing other aspects of him. In fact, each member of the Grady family has an oddity about them. Percy (Tate Birchmore), the youngest child, seems to have some form of OCD or paranoia, which is the only aspect that doesn’t quite lead to anything, but he most certainly has a part to play in the end. And Sprout (Nicole Moorea Sherman) suffers from a form of sleep paralysis – a trait that does actually add to the plot.
Enter Danielle Harris’s Ranger Stella Woodhouse and her son Max (Max Page). The pair are the mother and son locals, with Stella being the park ranger for the area in which the Grady’s reside. She the clear and obvious love interest of the film, with Max being Sprout’s first introduction to a boy – and a crush. Although they don’t share anywhere the near the amount of screen time as the Grady’s, they are important characters, and as I mentioned, it’s always a pleasure watching Danielle Harris on screen.
The real standout feature of the movie was the cinematography. As something of a photographer myself, I always look for how shots are done and staged – even when I’m not reviewing a film. I feel it’s one of the most important characteristics of any film, and Between The Darkness really nails it. From the lingering shots, to the guerrilla handheld shots that almost seemed improvised, everything looks stunning and really helps draw the viewer into the lives of the Gradys. In fact, most everything to do with the production was well done, from sound design to location, it all fit really well.
In the end, the movie features a stellar performance from the cast, especially Lew Temple, a standout showing of cinematography prowess, and a great setting. My only negative take away from the film would have to be the final third. While the film had an incredible build up and pace, and an explosive third act, it felt a little predictable. Whether or not there was meant to be a twist ending or not is not for me to say, but besides that, very much a solid watch.
4/5 from me!
DarkCoast will release Between The Darkness onto VOD platforms August 20th (Amazon, iTunes, inDemand, DIRECTV, Vudu, FANDANGO, Vimeo on Demand, AT&T, Google Play, Sling/Dish).