With certain films, the right setting can be a main character in its own right, and oftentimes one just as important as our protagonists. Tim Brown’s British Columbia-based supernatural thriller, Devil in the Dark, is precisely one of these movies, with the vast Canadian wilderness acting not only as a location but also as a sinister force driving the story and characters to the edge.
Devil in the Dark tells the story of Clint (Dan Payne) and Adam (Robin Dunne), estranged brothers who embark on a hunting trip together in an attempt to bond and resolve issues from their past. However, their chosen hunting ground is rumored to be home to mysterious dark forces, and the brothers are soon forced to work together despite their differences in an attempt to survive their ill-fated expedition.
This simple set-up actually works in the film’s favor, allowing most of the runtime to be spent contemplating the melancholic backdrop and develop//ing the brothers’ complicated relationship and history. Of course, this inevitably results in a slow burn, but that doesn’t necessarily make the experience any less interesting. The deliberate pace only adds to the ambience, and the film is thrilling enough to avoid feeling entirely monotonous, especially with its brief runtime.
Nevertheless, Devil in the Dark‘s greatest asset lies in its stunning cinematography. The pacing and score compliment these picturesque scenes and create a chilling atmosphere that’s lacking in most modern horror films. Unfortunately, the story itself doesn’t quite reach the same heights as these visuals, despite some compelling characters and a decent enough mystery. While a simple plot is to be expected from a moody film like this one, a little more depth would have been greatly appreciated.
The horror elements of the film could also have used some work, as the titular ‘Devil’ isn’t as imposing as it should have been, and the design isn’t all that impressive. This minimalist approach to the antagonist does make sense considering the introspective (and almost surreal) story Brown is trying to tell, but it doesn’t do much to catch the viewer’s attention, especially in a film as slow as this one.
Regardless of these shortcomings, Devil in the Dark is still a feast for the eyes, and the visuals almost make up for the barebones story. Payne and Dunne are also great in their roles, but it’s a shame that the script doesn’t give them much to do. The ending could also have been handled better, as it didn’t feel impactful enough considering what was at stake. However, if you can look past these flaws, you’ll find a competent and atmospheric thriller that’s most definitely worth a watch if you have the patience.
Devil in the Dark will be available on VOD March, 7th!