...In the Dark
...In the Dark is atmospheric and dense, conjuring up a healthy dose of scares thanks to David Spaltro's steady direction and a trio of exceptionally effective performances.
…In the Dark is indie director David Spaltro‘s latest film, descending into the horror territory as he cinematically dances yet again with death, only this time in the demonic sense. …In the Dark proves to be an effective and creepy possession film centered on its characters, while maintaining a strong focus on its mood and atmosphere.
Modern horror has been on a rough road these days, with most mainstream efforts proving to be lacking any sort of real ideas or artistic approach. The indie front has been the front-runner for those looking for quality horror and that continues to be the trend in David Spaltro‘s latest film …In the Dark.
Spaltro skips the found footage/handheld approach that’s been plaguing most possession horror films as of late in exchange for a more balanced and steady direction. He pulls the camera back and gives it the proper space to maximize its effectiveness and close that gap between the film’s chilling story and Hell’s front door. …In the Dark is constantly brewing and boiling, keeping you engaged and interested in the actual story at hand and not just the promising horror on display.
The film has such a naturally creepy vibe and it never lets that up. It’s consistently eerie and the film’s somewhat familiar story benefits from Spaltro’s restrained and patient approach.
Spaltro wisely focuses more on psychological horror versus simple jump scares and that smart shift in approach keeps the film from drifting into too predictable of territories, while also allowing the film’s lean budget to really stretch itself out. …In the Dark feels like a small and intimate film, but it looks like it was shot on a studio budget and you wouldn’t know it because Spaltro is no amateur with his cameras.
He’s also no amateur with his casting, bringing in Grace Folsom, Fiona Horrigan and Lynn Justinger. The three actresses give the film a solid and dimensional base, which David structures the spooks and scares around with ease.
Grace Folsom‘s possessed Bethany Mills will have you clinging to your chair as she slowly turns an innocent young woman into a possessed nightmare, with full-on make-up and distorted voice-changing only helping her performance send chills up your spine.
Fiona Horrigan and Lynn Justinger bring the film’s most balanced performances, with Horrigan’s Dr. Lois Kearne bringing in her own dark past and experiences into the case, which gives the viewer an initial sense of safety as you assume that Kearne has been-there-done-that many times, only to slowly find out that you’re never actually prepared when facing off against true evil.
Lynn Justinger‘s skeptic Veronica Carpenter shows the most progression as she goes from an interested, but far from believing grad student to a woman shaken with questions that might be beyond her understanding.
The film’s weakest link lies with Jesse R. Tendler‘s Buckley. Buckley just doesn’t feel as well-written and as engaging as Spaltro’s trio of women, which makes Jesse R. Tendler’s performance sort of stick out as an afterthought. It’s a minor, but noticeable distraction from an otherwise lean film that gets the most out of its performers.
…In the Dark might be billed as a straight-forward horror show, but it really excels more on the psychological character front, because Horrigan, Justinger and Folsom really do grab your attention with their performances. The scares definitely follow that up, but the film’s focus on actual dimensional characters is where Spaltro breaks away from the horror mold.
The film slows down on occasion and gets a little too crazy and big during its grand demonic finale, but luckily the ending that follows sticks its landing and brings us back down to where …In the Dark succeeds as a slow-burn thriller.
…In the Dark shows progression for David Spaltro as a writer/director, reminding us that the man has an eye for strong characters and knows how to channel scares in a way that isn’t completely reliable on blood, gore or excessive nudity. Spaltro never cuts his characters short and the film benefits strongly from that and his casting decisions. Some might find …In the Dark a little too slow or reserved for their tastes, but I appreciate and applaud Spaltro’s love for atmosphere and dense character work, which helps make the story click where other horror films fizzle out, even if the film’s opening scares outshine some of the film’s later moments.
…In the Dark is a perfect late-night horror selection for the 2015 Twin Cities Film Fest, because it highlights good indie horror, reminding us that you don’t need one-dimensional characters and excessive blood and gore to tell a scary story or to shock audiences. Spaltro does it with a modest budget, exceptional directing/writing skills and a great group of actresses that help turn …In the Dark into something much more than just another possession-based horror film.