And Soon The Darkness

And Soon The Darkness (2010)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurette, Trailers

'And Soon The Darkness' seems to have a lot going for it. It is a remake of a good, yet underseen 1970 British thriller of the same name, it has two beautiful female leads, a well-known male lead, and a distribution company (Anchor Bay) known for releasing under the radar hits. It sounds as if this is all a match made in heaven. So why have many people probably not heard of this title? There are a few details that have been left out.

Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman) are vacationing in Argentina. They stop in a small village that seems to look at the ladies in an odd way for traveling alone. Not picking up on what should be obvious visual cues, the attractive women hit the bar that evening dressed to impress. Ellie, who is certainly more outgoing and social, ends up attracting the attention of one of the locals. Even after being 'warned' by a fellow American named Michael (Karl Urban), the ladies split up. When Stephanie is unable to track down her BFF, she grows concerned and notifies the police. The long arm of the law, Calvo (César Vianco) listens to her pleas, but his nonchalant attitude doesn't help ease her worries. Stephanie begins to look for Ellie on her own, only to realize that once the sun goes down she may never see her friend again.

In his first feature film, Writer/Director Marcos Efron seems to be all over the place. The film starts out with a scene that implies the film will be a brutal one, then goes into fairly familiar territory. The ideas coupled with the opening scene had me comparing the film to 'Hostel 2' as it is a fish out of water tale with what appears to be a corrupt town pulling the strings. Even for those who despised the torture porn sequel, the fact that 'And Soon The Darkness' never gets close to 'Hostel' territory is unfortunate. The film seems to lack identity by trying to reinvent itself throughout the running time. It tries to morph into a thriller, but doesn't really have the backbone to pull off such feats. It then shifts to a missing person drama that slows the pace to a crawl before trying to kick things in high gear again with horror movie elements. While ultimately most will classify the movie as a thriller, the lack of suspense will keep it from being a memorable one.

On the plus side, the 1080p, 2.40:1 presentation is very nice. A lot of the scenes are outdoors so not only are viewers treated to some nice scenery, the natural light showcases a variety of colors and hues that really pop on Blu-Ray. Flesh tones are accurate and black levels are spot on. The picture quality also shows an amazing amount of detail throughout the film and with close up shots. For the lumps Marcus Efron will take for a sub par film, he makes up for it by shooting the film well. Kudos to Anchor Bay for a wonderful transfer.

The Dolby Digital True HD 5.1 track is a highlight as well. While not as impressive as the look of the film, the track does utilize the entire sound field while accurately balancing dialogue levels, effects, and music. There are a few missed opportunities in the track, but a decent ambiance is present throughout.

In the extras department, a feature length audio commentary with Director Marcos Efron, Editor Todd. E. Miller, and Director of Photography Gabriel Beristain covers a lot of technical aspects of the movie. They discuss the basics one would expect from a commentary track and even make reference to the original 1970 film. The 'Director's Video Diary' (11:12) is a feature that seems to be more popular with younger directors. It gives a personal perspective (commentary by Efron) on production and some behind the scenes footage. Rounding out the disc are some 'Deleted Scenes' (6:42), a high definition Theatrical Trailer, and a trailer for 'Altitude'.

The multiple personality disorder this film has is the reason why the title isn't more popular. If it is on cable and you are looking for something to watch, 'And Soon The Darkness' will entertain for 91 minutes. Even with some decent extra features, this title will probably be best known for a couple of nice looking ladies sporting bikinis in a rather forgettable thriller. If you decide to rent this one, keep it low on your queue.