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April 2011

And Soon The Darkness

cast: Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, and Karl Urban

director: Marcos Efron

87 minutes (15) 2010
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Optimum DVD Region 2

RATING: 3/10
review by Ian Hunter

And Soon The Darkness

I suppose if you have seen the original 1970 version of And Soon The Darkness you will be wondering what on earth someone was thinking about remaking it. Well, we are living in an age of remakes and reboots, although that's no excuse, but if you haven't seen the original you missed an effective little chiller co-written by Brian Clemens (of TV's The Avengers, and Thriller fame) and Terry Nation (who created the Daleks, and the original BBC series of Survivors, and a little something called Blake's 7).

Given that the original was directed by Robert Fuest, who made the Dr Phibes movies, among other things, I would have thought that with such a pedigree it would be a daunting and tough act to follow, but first-time director (and co-writer) Marcos Efron obviously thought it was worth having a go. Here, he keeps the same basic premise - two contrasting girls are on holiday, this time, not in rural France, but in stunning Argentina. Stephanie, the nice one, is played by Amber Heard (credited as co-producer, and currently to be seen in Drive Angry with Nicolas Cage - if it hasn't disappeared already), and the loose one, Ellie, is played by Odette Justman (who made her movie debut at the tender age of five in Kindergarten Cop of all things and has appeared in films like Transformers, Cloverfield, and starred in The Unborn, on her way here).

The film opens in familiar torture-porn mode with a scantily-clad girl being shocked into submission. This is Camila, who has gone missing. Cue the 'have you seen this girl?' poster which our two heroines fail to spot on the bridge as they head towards a remote village where they act really condescendingly towards the locals, get wrecked in a bar, and flirt with the talent until Ellie has to be rescued by another American called Michael (played by Karl Urban - McCoy in the Star Trek reboot, Eomer in the second and third Lord Of The Rings movies and soon to be Judge Dredd). Next day, it's time for bikinis on and sunbathing at a remote lake, but the two girls fall out, and Stephanie leaves on her bike, and when she eventually cools down and goes looking for Ellie there is no sign of her, but there is sign of a struggle.

The local cops are no help, and are a bit creepy looking - think leaner and hungrier-looking Bela Lugosi types - who are obviously useless at finding missing people anyway given the number of posters on the station walls concerning tourists who have disappeared. Out of desperation, Stephanie turns to Michael for help, but he has his own reasons for being there and his own agenda and, soon, she is thinking she might as well have been better off with the scary-looking cop after all.

That's enough of the plot, for what it is. You'll have guessed from the opening shot and all those missing person posters what is going on here, and what will be the fate of the principal characters - we're following pretty standard horror/ chiller/ thriller rules here, and pretty much a list of dumb things to do on holiday to aid the plot, like go off the beaten track, annoy the locals to various degrees, get wrecked and miss your flight, and then go off to somewhere remote wearing only a bikini. Oh, and lets not forget to add in plenty of screaming and running, and encounters with bad guys who look - well, up to no good, I suppose.

The scenery is stunning in places, and so are the girls. Urban is wasted, and the whole thing almost plays like an 'information film' warning potential tourists of things not to do on your vacation in a mildly threatening way that doesn't overdo the sex and violence, resulting in a bland experience that offers the barest of nods to the original.



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