The Dark Hours (V)

Screened at this years FanTasia Festival: Thanks to DarkLoud for submitting:

Tonight’s fantasia pick was an outstanding and a very imaginative work. This Canadian film is definitely worth watching more than once. Paul Fox’s directing will remind you about the great things that Canadian horror films are made of. And you will never be able to forget his movie.

A doctor (Kate Greenhouse) wants to go to her cottage to take the pressure off. She has a brain tumor and after two year of being stable it started to grow. She therefore needs to get away from her life to put things into perspective. Her husband is already at the cottage with her sister. Both of them seem weird at first, just like they were doing something together. Right after that, she announced to her sister that the tumor has grown. It is at that moment that somebody knocks at the door. A young man pretends to be freezing and to needs to get inside while he waits for his friend to show up. Few seconds after that he kill their dogs and the story begins. The father of the young man comes to the cottage and we find out that he is indeed a patient of the doctor. She was making some experiments on him to find a cure for herself (because he has the same tumor). The guy starts right away to play some sick game with them with the intention of killing them all.

First off, let’s talk about the story. The story is well written, its simplicity will drive you right into the film and into the world of where the characters are living. The story has some very good twists and will leave you with some questions at the end but this is a good thing. This movie will get people talking about it for hours and I believe that is the spirit of a good script. The psychological theme introduced in the film is an important addition to the story and it also relates on the medical theme well. The medical aspect in the film offers some kind of a new era of ideas (like experimenting on people that has nothing to lose) showing how far people can go to try to find a cure for diseases. Both medicine and psychology bring an interesting aspect to the characters.

The directing of this movie is so clever. Right at the beginning of the film there is a wonderful shot introducing the two main characters, Kate Greenhouse and Aidan Devine. The camera moves right in the two characters separately to introduce the two in a very particular way. You enter in their minds from the early beginning. The editing is also an important component that made that scene a spectacular one. The color and reflection (on the table) of the “X” window at the back just makes your eyes want to see more and more of these from the very first minute.

Another of the interesting moments (there is many believe me, Miss Greenhouse couldn’t even chose one at the Q&A after the film) are the outsides scenes. The truck shot is quite a good one, you see the wheel right in front of the camera and it leaves it space with the snow coming right at you. It was a very good shot yet again. The dirt of the snow really came in and melted with the aesthetic of the film. Yet another one is the hand trace on the window. You know when it’s cold outside and you touch the window and it leaves the mark of your hand, they used this effect in quite an imaginary way to induce a sense of fear. The palm leaves the eyes of Kate Greenhouse to stare outside of the cottage almost knowing that the worst is yet to come. The intensity of the actress and the close shot of the eyes through the window did put some massive intensity into that scene.

Let’s not forget to talk about the way the visual is built up. The use of outside and indoors space is remarkable. When the characters are inside, everything looks warm, after all when you’re in your cottage a cold night with the fireplace right in front of you , there is no way you can’t be more at ease then that. Well the director pretty much understood this feeling and he did put a lot of attention to it by putting every single killing in the cottage and every single fear related emotions inside. This is a very efficient way to surprise us. The exterior scenes are really cold feeling and make you want to get away from there. The color outside even reflects some blue just like at the beginning of the film when the actress is watching the brain scan in her office. The blue is present in some scenes of the film and did have an effect combined with the eyes of the actress. Another exterior scene that is really amazing is when Aidan Devine is coming at the cottage. Everything is dark but a little light left in front of the cottage, his shadow does really work with the rest of the film. When the characters are inside, it happens often that they walk through shadows; it has a strong impact throughout the film.

Let’s talk a bit about the blood now, the killing scenes are pretty good. The moment when Kate cuts her finger off really had a strong reaction from the audience. The axe scenes are efficient and do have a good impact when they come up. The violence is raw and realistic and keeps you on the edge of your seat.

The acting is very good and really makes the intensity of the film work as a whole. The actors play so well together that it feels like they’ve played together before. (In fact, Aidan Devine did mention that he played with Kate before) It does show on screen because the two really do complete each other.

The story is simple at first but does become quite complex afterwards. Dealing with brain tumors and weird hallucinations, the film is set up in a world that is almost disconnected to the real world, away from everything but yet in a realistic environment. For sure there is a lot to get out of a story like this. The connections between the characters are amazingly well brought out.

The sound and music together are great and create a strong ambiance at several occasions. Kate has lots of moments where she stops hearing spoken dialogue and instead hears only background noises. When this happens, all these everyday sounds get pushed up to the spot light. For example, the sound of mice walking and screeching upstairs bring something intense to the audio and adds greatly to the ambiance.

Such a film deserves attention and I hope that everyone will give it a watch. We need more movies like this one. Bringing everything together like this like a great story and good acting does wonders for a horror film. This is a movie that most definitely you are going to want to watch a couple of times if not more.

Official Score