It All Happens In The Dark

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Darkness Falls

The Possession of David O’Reilly (2010)

A young couple, Alex (Nicholas Shaw) and Kate (Zoe Richards) arrive home one evening with some takeout and a movie rental. Alex, still enjoying a new toy, checks his laptop – he’s got motion detector cameras stationed around the apartment for recording intruders and he’s just signed up to a website which will store the recordings for him – the camera films when it is triggered and then uploads what it has recorded. They two fall asleep on the sofa watching the rental and Alex wakes up when he hears Kate talking in her sleep. She is saying “don’t open it.”

Just then the door buzzer goes off. It is after midnight, but they decide to answer it. They find David (Giles Alderson) – a mutual friend, and someone that Alex has known quite a while – since college. David says that he has nowhere else to go – he just found out that his girlfriend, Sarah, who he lives with, has been seeing someone else. Kate goes to bed to give Alex and David a chance to talk. Alex tells David that he is more than welcome to stay with them, and the two stay up, discussing things over drink. David tells Alex that he found photographs of Sarah – undressed, and it seems clear from how upset he is that he isn’t the one who photographed her. He has in fact, been racking his brain, trying to figure out who the other guy is – he says that he and Sarah don’t know that many people and he feels certain that the guy is someone he does knows.

Alex goes to bed and David sits up in the living room, looking at the photos of Sarah and generally wallowing. When he goes into the bathroom he hears some noises. He gets pretty nervous and says, “No, not here. Not here please.” As he looks out the bathroom window into the night, he sees some kind of shambling monster.

The next day, David doesn’t say anything about this, and as Alex and Kate are occupied playing a video game David drifts in and out of sleep. That night, Kate wakes up with a start to find David standing in their bedroom in the dark – he appears to be sleepwalking. Kate says that they shouldn’t wake him, but instead try and guide him back to bed. But when David suddenly starts spazzing out, Alex wakes him. The two men go into the kitchen and Kate finds a journal that David has dropped in the bedroom.

David opens up to Alex – he tells him about things he started noticing out of the corners of his eyes, things he heard moving around in his apartment at night – things that he is convinced are after him. Kate looks through David’s journal and finds some troubling details – David’s increasingly paranoid scribblings and disturbing drawings of inhuman looking creatures. Then the lights go out. David panics, Kate goes into the kitchen, Alex thinks he sees something in the shadows – the three go into the front hallway, where there is light and Kate wants to know what is going on, Alex tries to calm David, and David warns them that they are all in danger.

The film then follows the group as they wait out the darkness, and face the prospect of another night, possibly under siege. Did Alex see something in the kitchen? Should they believe David? If so, what do they do – how do they protect themselves against whatever they are up against?

The way this movie is filmed is rather perplexing – most of it is done with a typical, straight forward approach – focusing on the characters, framing them in a shot, etc. But during the scenes that take place at night and feature the majority of the action, the filming is done as if one of the characters is shooting the scenes themselves – think Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project. However, none of the character have a camera. Also, the perspective will change with no real purpose, so that first we’ll be seeing David and Kate in the frame and looking on as if we’re Alex and then Kate will disappear from the action and we’ll be seeing Alex and David through her “eyes.” It is quite jarring initially – not because of the shaky camera technique which is commonplace now – but the fact that I had to stop and try to figure out if I had missed a scene in which one of the characters picked up a camera and began documenting the events. I’m curious as to why this technique was chosen to be used – and why at the times it is – I suppose it is meant to convey the sense of calamity that is afoot during these portions of the film.

The effects, I must say are indeed impressive considering the low budget I am guessing the filmmakers were working with.

There are a some interesting ideas that are never brought to fruition – most of the clues to what is going on are so casually inserted into the film that they’re far too easy to miss, and the interesting questions the film does raise directly it never develops. And there is too much which is never dealt with at all – what was David putting along the doors to ward off the creatures? How did he come across this particular method of keeping them at bay? If they can only be seen in the darkness, yet can still be present in the light – can they only attack in the dark or can they also strike if you’re in the light? What were the messages being spelled out to David with the letters in the newspaper meant to have us believe? What was the deal with Anna? Just what were the creatures? What is their agenda? How did David become able to see them? Why does the film even bother playing up the home security camera angle in the beginning when so little is done with them and with no payoff whatesoever?

Now, I don’t like movies that give us easy answers, and explain everything – I enjoy unresolved, open-ended, use your head puzzlers. But this movie feels too much like one of those questions on a test in which the answer is: “Not enough information given.” C

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