Tribeca 2018 Review: “The Dark” (2018) ★★★


Can evil become good or vice versa? Can it be defeated through compassion and kindness? When it comes to cinematic approach, that kind of concept can work in any way. It all depends on how the writer or director envisions it. What’s being introduced to the viewer in “The Dark” is poetic and imaginative. But how did drama find itself being fit into the horror genre is another story. But one thing is certain, if the monster knows when to stop being homicidal, maybe, those who call themselves human beings but act as monsters might do the same. That’s nice to have though, right?

“The Dark” follows a teenage girl named Nina who is locked in a cabin in the dark wood called Devil’s Den. Anyone who comes close to her she kills and eats the flesh afterwards. But that desire to kill changes when she meets the young and vulnerable Alex who appears to be in the car of his kidnapper.

As the story unfolds, we learn what made Nina to become so dangerous and undead. We learn about her troubled family and her mom’s boyfriend who would take advantage of her when her mother was not around to defend her. That’s when things turn ugly when Nina decides to fight for herself. As we are taken back to the present, scared Alex is thinking that the man who hid him in the trunk of his car will soon return, but does not know that Nina made sure he won’t ever.

As the belief is being circulated around the area that the Devil’s Den was cursed or rather the woods are being cursed as well, it is interesting to see how Mina’s personality changes as soon as she meets Alex, who pretty much, was physically abused in the same way she was before she became a zombie type a flesh eater. She sees in him a sanctuary she can escape to from being an evil or a monster that people call her. As that dynamic change occurs between both of them, it becomes a very fascinating tale almost like the Beauty and the beast but in an unconventional way.

In conclusion, written and directed by Justin P. Lange, “The Dark” is a light horror film about searching of the soul when there isn’t. However, it misses an emotional part and some questions are left unanswered. For instance, we will never know why Josef decided to bring Alex to the Devil’s Den as he dies soon after the film begins. But other than that, it’s a good story about friendship, redemption and survival, even though that type of concept of survival would not be accepted so easily in our, seemingly, healthy society.

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