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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Darkest Hour (2005) Horror Slasher

 Darkest Hour (2005) - I have too say I wrote some really terrific stuff on this film but this damn blogger and my touch pad highlighted everything and deleted then auto saved leaving me with part of the word "and" nd. Swearing can only do so much to relieve the frustration and in the end if I am going to write about this film I will have to try to dredge the thoughts back up and repeat them. Still i felt I was so in the mood to talk about this low budget first feature by Dan Zachary that finding that groove again is going to be hard.
  Not a lot can be expected from a low budget first horror feature and I have to say this one is a bit on the cliche side. Ben Traimer (Todd Hann) is making a movie, a Slasher and is having a murder mystery weekend at a local campground to promote it. there is something about this location being the actual site of a slashing adding to the sensationalist tone of the event.
  Early in the film we get to see the actual killer in action, a reaper dressed robed character with a skull face and a scythe, as he stalks a couple rednecks going down a rough dirt road in their truck. The scene plays out in expected fashion, ugly people acting mean and stupid coming across a body in the road. Then the music and the stalking by the killer all cliche and as expected. So cliche in fact that at the end of the scene the woman runs down the dirt track being chased by the Reaper Killer and instead of running into the trees and bushes on either side of the road, runs down the path chased by the killer driving the truck. On top of that she falls down in the road. (A part of me thought maybe this was satire but another part fear it is not.)
  Then we start getting introduced in a minimalist way to the characters. The women apparently chosen to be attractive, Ben's  ex-girlfriend Lauren (Lee Tomaschefski), and current fling Stacey (Tamara Pender) as well as participants Lisa (Angie Zachary, any relation? and I have a personal weakness of brunettes with raspy voices.)  and Rosemary (Patricia Nudd) finishing with the sexy goth Therese (Tristan Risk @littlemissrick) who also has her first IMDB credit in this film and later went on to play the wonderful role of Beatress Johnson in the Soska Sister's American Mary (2012), and last year appeared in my friend Izzy Lee's Innsmouth (2015) (It may be presumptuous to call her my friend but I think she is great), a real up and coming feminist film maker who is sure to make waves. Preetty standard for low budget horror. Then the men who are pretty much dogs trying to get laid. Really not my favorite variety of character.
  It does not matter in the end though, there are a lot of characters but the plot is driven by story and not character. A flaw in most schools of screenwriting but not in the Slasher sub-genre where a minimal  introduction and basic personality conflict is all that is needed before slicing and dicing. The characters are introduced and somewhat pair off with some being successful at sex and other not. Surrounding this though is the story. A murder mystery weekend hosted by Dreighton Sawyer  (Benjamin Gutknecht) a face painted fiend setting the participant up for a weekend "Who wants to host a murder". except little does he know that because the real life killer from the area was never caught that actual death is just around the corner. Sure the story is known and shared by the participants but belief is a tough thing in a low budget horror flick.
  There are parts of this film that are promising like early in the film there is a kill. A strobe effect where the girl is attacked and a knife is seen and we know that it her end. Well done but the timing is sort of off. Instead of building the fear with strobe, the movie spend 20 or so seconds. It would have been so much better to draw this kind of scene out. Instead of lots of this we get a lot of daytime scenes with a large cast who explain to us all the different serial killer stories from twentieth century America.  This stuff is really filler until the real killing gets starting and mostly accomplishes that role playing games should only be done with friends and when everyone is willing to fully participate.
  Once night comes and the slasher starts slashing we get a lot of what you would expect, in any one of the multitude of Friday the 13th movies. The stalking the stabbing the He is right behind you and you don't see it, moments. Then there is the woman crawling and screaming for help as she is being murdered, I was never much of a slasher fan and it may be the misogynistic stereotypes that really turn me against it. I get the psychology of the final girl but there is so much running and screaming by women in these movies. I much prefer the always capable always strong heroine like  the character Erin (Sharni Vinson) in Simon Barrett's & Adam Wingard's You're Next (2011) . Unfortunately even when there is a final girl in this film it is a trope of the guys trying to protect the women and it is just so Slasher. failing at it and we always seem to get so much running and screaming and falling while being chased
  Even with all this criticism I have to say there is a part of the horror me that really does not mind the attempt. It did not work particularly well but there is always a place where the slasher movie even if sub ar has a part in my consciousness.
 As with every film this year I am doing an experiment where I will follow a lot of the people involved with the films I see this year to see my Twitter account grow.  Then see where it sits at the end of the year. I am hoping that some of the people involved follow me back @Soresport like recent  Actor, Director, Producer @davidheavener did this week. He is the first and I really appreciate it.

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