Dir: Marcos Efron - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban, Adriana Barraza, César Vianco, Michel Noher
Reason to see: The trailer and Karl Urban was enough to get be interested.
When I sat down to watch And Soon the Darkness (2010), I didn't know that it was a remake of a 1970 UK film and I'm kind of glad because then it would have had that horror-remake stigma, and it doesn't deserve that as it's a great film in it's own right. This version chooses northern Argentina as it's gorgeous setting as we follow friends Stephanie (Amber Heard of Zombieland) and Ellie (Odette Yustman of The Unborn) on their adventure after they skip out of their bike tour group. And you know it's all going to go horribly wrong.
Now, thrillers that feature 'women in peril' certainly aren't my favourites which is why I treaded lightly into And Soon the Darkness. Given the premise alone, we know that something is creeping up on us, and on Stephanie and Ellie, but the amazing thing the film does is always just keep you on edge enough to keep wondering who or what will go wrong. It doesn't go for pop scares or silly segues, but always keeps the dramatic tension itself really high and it works so well. You never know who or what will happen, but you believe everything that does. Now, that is a movie I can get behind.
One of the things I loved about the film is the friendship between Stephanie and Ellie. Amber Heard and Odette Yustman do a great job of create a believe friend dynamic, from how well you feel the two women know each other from general banter to the annoying traits or behaviour that they don't bother to argue with because they just are who they are. This is really great to see, showcasing a powerful loyalty between the two women. The supporting cast is also very strong, we have Karl Urban (Star Trek) as Michael, who is a bit of a mystery and also a bit of a menace and plays a great hand in terms of keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Another familiar face is Adriana Barraza (Babel) who is great as Rosamaria and I also really enjoyed César Vianco performance as Calvo, another character who keeps us on edge.
With a strong story, great performances and tension that uncomfortably keeps you on edge throughout, And Soon the Darkness is a great thriller. But what makes it a cut above, is that it's absolutely beautiful to watch as well. Being set in Argentina and spending a lot of time out during the day, we get to see beautiful scenery throughout the film on top of all the great tension and unnerving events. It's an amazingly successful pairing and I'm glad I took the gamble on the journey.
Warnings: violence, torture
- Commentary with director Marcos Efron, Editor Todd Miller and Director of photography Gabriel Beristain - great commentary that covers a wide range of topics from discussing the first film, to choices made for this version, working with the cast (it's clear everyone was very impressed by the primary cast and enjoyed working with them), to ho they told a lot of the story visually and the cinematography. Often tech-centric but always accessible commentary for a thriller, I was really impressed.
- Director's Video Diary (11 minutes) great extra features that has behind the scenes footage, stories from the filmmaking process from the challenges they faced on the film to more fun, lighter times and the scenery all the way through is gorgeous. It has a travelogue kind of fell to it, often with the narration from director Marcos Efron
- Deleted Scenes (5 scenes, 6 minutes) combination of extended and deleted scenes
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it much more than expected
I'll watch it again
I'd highly recommend it thriller fans (not the warnings though!)
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© Shannon Ridler, 2010