To date Chiller Films has eleven flicks under its belt. I’ve seen five of them, reviewed three of them, counting this one, and with this movie they finally made something that entertained me. I had high hopes for Ghoul (2012) since I read the novel it was based on by Brian Keene, but the main thing that torpedoed that one for me was before hand I heard the best parts of his novel had not been adapted, namely the part of the book inside the Ghoul’s lair, which basically were the creepiest moments. Despite knowing this I tried to watch it but it just didn’t keep my interest. One day though I plan to get the DVD and try again.
Deep In The Darkness is another literary adaptation this time coming from Michael Laimo’s 2004 novel. The one reason I wanted to review this particular film was after seeing the trailer it reminded me of Kevin Costner’s 2009 horror movie, The New Daughter, which was unexpectedly good, and now that I’ve seen Deep In The Darkness they are indeed similar but just on the surface. Both are about a family moving to the country where they are then subsequently terrorized by ancient creatures that dwell in the forest; both have rather grim endings, more so with The New Daughter, and both are primarily told from the father/husband’s point of view.
Sean Patrick Thomas plays Dr. Michael Cayle, who with his wife, Cristine (Kristen Bush), and their daughter, Jessica (Athena Grant), are preparing to give the middle finger to urban living and move to a small town in New Hampshire called, Ashborough. From the outside looking in Ashborough seems like every other rural New England burg, but once they settle in it’s true colors start to show through. The first incident being a meeting with neighbors, Phil (Dean Stockwell) and Rosy Deighton (Marty Gargle) and their grandson, Tyler (Anthony Del Negro). And unexpected encounter with Rosy shows us her face is all scarred up, kind of like an animal attacked her. Later on during a walk in the woods Phil gives Cayle the lowdown on some local folklore. Back before “civilization” made its way this far north the area was populated by these “wildmen” and that mound nearby is where the locals used to sacrifice live animals to appease them. A practice Cayle is shocked to learn is still en vogue. One that he too is expected to partake in. “Problems” will arise if he doesn’t, but Cayle is pretty adamant he ain’t doing nothin’ of the kind.
In the meantime, Cristine is introduced to this Lady Zellis (Blanche Baker), a woman who “runs” the affairs of the town. Right from the start we see how close and bonded the Cayles are but once this Zellis enters the picture Cristine become unexpectedly cold and distant. You see they’re also trying to have a kid and soon Cristine is pregnant but that doesn’t do much to alleviate her new attitude.
Eventually these wildmen, Isolates as they’re called, come a callin’ and for the time being they want Cayle mostly for his doctoring skills. They kidnap him to their lair and demand he take care of one of their pregnant own. They are diseased and are constantly searching for ways to make themselves better and think a doctor might be what they need, but even though Cayle succeeds in delivering the thing’s baby, the female Isolate dies. This is where we learn of their cannibalistic nature, they eat their dead, but from previous hints we also kind of know they’ll eat the living too. And I don’t mean their living. On one level you feel some compassion for these diseased throwbacks, but they keep tabs on the populace, they hear everything, and they don’t like dissenters. You want to leave town? You get eaten, so this aspect ends up pretty much trumping the compassion.
We also see how you become one of these desensitized townsfolk, with every visit Cayle is forced to pay to these creatures, he loses a little bit of himself. He almost relents and sacrifices is own dog, but instead is forced to kill Phil when the Isolates learn the old man’s done too much talking. And when eventually Tyler comes to Cayle looking for help, Cayle at first acts just like all the other townsfolk when he went looking for help and answers himself, but thankfully humanity gets the better of him and he decides to try and get Tyler and his own family out of town once for all.
I emphasize the word, ‘try,’ for you can see the grim ending coming at a hundred yards. . Without spoiling anything there’s a nice twist in the final scene that makes you understand this move to New Hampshire was all “pre-planned”, but this ending also left me with questions. Looking author Michael Laimo up on the web I learned he wrote a sequel called, Return To Darkness, and I can only hope Chiller decides to make it.
On April 21st Shout! Factory’s horror sub-label, Scream Factory, releases Deep In The Darkness on both DVD and Blu-ray.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080 2.35:1 or 2.39:1 high definition widescreen—English 2.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio—English subtitles only. (Note: there’s a misprint on the back of the blu-ray. It stats the aspect ratio is 1.78:1. That’s wrong).
Extras you get on the DVD and Blu-ray are…
- Meet The Makers (2:30)
- TV Spot
I liked this flick not only because of its surface similarity to The New Daughter but also because it felt very Lovecraftian to me. First off it takes place on Lovecraft’s stomping ground of New England and the Isolates reminded me of the devolved Martense Family of “The Lurking Fear,” and speaking of devolved creatures the FX for the Isolates are all practical (actors) and very creepy. Their trademark is their reflective, glowing eyes. However, the CGI beasts in The New Daughter, I thought, were very well handled too.
I think at some point I’m going to read Laimo’s novel and the sequel.