Actors: Niamh Algar, Stephen Cromwell
Director: Conor McMahon
Format: Blu-ray, Widescreen
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Dark Sky Films
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Run Time: 90 minutes
Somehow I can’t imagine even beginning a discussion about this film without immediately spoiling elements of the film that seem intentionally left out of the plot description. So, I will warn that there is a slight spoiler in the remainder of this review, though it is one I would rather have known from the beginning anyway. The blurb on the back of the Blu-ray describes the film’s creature as “something sinister” and “an unimaginable evil,” paired with the fact that light is their weakness. While the creature of From the Dark may not be a vampire in the most traditional sense, this is clearly the starting off point for the creation of a similar monster.
The movie begins like countless other horror films, with a bickering young couple getting lost in the middle of nowhere. When their car gets stuck on a small back road, Sarah (Niamh Algar) and Mark (Stephen Cromwell) search for help and find a small cottage in the deep bog of the Irish countryside, ultimately using it as shelter from a creature hunting them from the dark. The attacker goes mostly unseen, shying away from all light sources rather than merely sunlight. This makes the electricity of the cottage appealing, though the cunning of the creature continually makes their survival in the light more difficult. It is almost too easy to imagine where the movie is headed, but the presentation remains tensely captivating.
The actual creature design of the vampire-like monster is somewhat contradictory in various presentations, though each individual representation seems to work individually. Occasionally we see the creature nearly floating over the bog, not unlike the iconic Vampire Count Orlok as played by Max Schreck in Nosferatu (1922). Then a few shots later he seems to be cowering and crawling, more like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings franchise. And to complicate things even further, human in transformation seem to have a more zombie-like appearance, far more like the unusual CGI vampires of I Am Legend.
This is a small complaint, however. From the Dark may not be perfect, but the simplicity of the story and the creativity in the alterations on a classic monster make for a more sophisticated viewing than filmmaker Conor McMahon’s last feature, Stitches. McMahon provides a feature-length commentary track on the Blu-ray release, along with a behind-the-scenes featurette and a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Special Features: 5.5/10