Dec 12, 2010
But HOW soon?
I've not seen the original 1970 film And Soon the Darkness. To be honest, I'd never even heard of it before some of you put it on your SHOCKtober Top 20 lists. That's right- I don't know about every movie ever made. I know that comes as quite a shock- frankly, I'm still reeling from the realization myself- but try to hold yourself together. If not for me or for yourself, then for the children.
I'll tell you what I have seen, however- I have seen the 2010 remake of And Soon the Darkness titled, oddly enough, And Soon the Darkness!
Stop me if you've heard this one before: a couple of vacationing young ladies get stranded in Vacationland (here, it's Argentina) and run afoul of dangerous danger that includes unhelpful locals, authority figures who cannot be trusted, fellow Americans who cannot be trusted, human traffickers, and, one assumes, sunburns because they lay out constantly but never wear sunscreen. Oh, the young and their reckless ways!
Ellie (Odette Yustman) is the wild one, whose drunken flirtations with the locals will surely lead to trouble. Stephanie (Amber Heard) is the sensible one, whose caution and awareness will surely help them out of any scrapes. After an argument, the girls separate and Ellie promptly disappears. Stephanie takes it upon herself to find her friend, reluctantly enlisting the aid of Michael (Karl Urban), another American who's always lurking about and acting nosy...and whose aid may not be aid at all.
In the end, And Soon the Darkness is another serviceable entry in that post-9/11 subgenre of xenophobic horror. Throughout, you can't shake the feeling that you've seen this exact type "Americans vs Strangers in a Strange Land" flick before; after seeing Turistas, The Ruins, Hostel, etc, it all gets same-y same-y and you know precisely where the film is going to go. And yeah, that's where And Soon the Darkness goes- that depressing place where women are nothing but commodities to them pesky ol' foreigners.
Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately, depending on your personal hopes and dreams), this flick is far more "thriller" than "horror"; mind you, I was happy it didn't feature the torture scenes and wince-inducing gore that could be considered rote for this little subgenre. Hell, I love a good thriller...but there was a tantalizing tease of...mmm, a feeling that, for a moment, led me to believe that And Soon the Darkness wouldn't go where I thought it would go. Allow me to explain, won't you?
At their hotel, the girls find a pamphlet for Villa del Lago, which looks like a delightful place to, say, sunbathe without sunscreen. The hotel's proprietress warns them away, however, with essentially a "Ravenholm...we don't go there anymore". It's a ghost town, there's nothing to see, see- but the look in her eyes said fear! Fear, I tells ya! As you can assume, the action ends up in del Lago, and damn- it looked like a post-nuclear wasteland. How creepy! How cool! How sinister! How...disappointing when we learn nothing about how it got to be that way or what happened. How much of a wasted opportunity when there's nothing sinister afoot in Villa del Lago beyond...well, the human traffickers who find the abandoned buildings convenient for their purposes.
It reminded me a bit of Wolf Creek (2005)- if you've seen it, then maybe you noticed all the hints to supernatural phenomena that were dropped only to be abandoned. In other words, the "Oh, so it's just that" realization was more than a bit of a metaphorical boner-killer.
While her character's obnoxious nature doesn't help matters, Yustman proves to be as insufferable as she was in The Unborn. On the other hand, Heard is likable enough to elicit a "Where the fuck is Mandy Lane, Region 1?" Karl Urban...well, he wears sunglasses a lot! That's about all he can do here.
Hmm, I suddenly feel as if I'm being way harsh, Tai on And Soon the Darkness and I don't necessarily mean to be. It's solid enough, and not a terrible way to spend 90 minutes. It's just too familiar to get terribly excited about, and when it's all over, it was what it was. No twists you won't see coming, no unexpected outcomes. Reliable, I suppose. Sort of like my friend who always makes the same exact oatmeal chocolate chip cookies whenever there's an occasion that calls for such behavior. They're fine. They always taste the same, which is not a bad thing- I mean, I eat them every time they're there. But still, when the Saran Wrap is lifted and I see the pile of them, I can't help but think "Put some fucking raisins in them one of these years, or make a GD Snickerdoodle or some shit." There's nothing inherently wrong with the same ol', but then again, variety is the something something of life.