And Soon The Darkness is an Amber Heard-co-produced remake of the 1970s thriller directed by Robert Fuest. The original had a great pedigree with it being written by Brian Clemens and Terry Nation, who were responsible for the likes of The Avengers, The Professionals, Blake’s 7 and the creation of the Daleks in Doctor Who, remaining very much a cult favourite.
US remakes of UK properties have seen mixed results over the years, but there have certainly been enough successes to justify the process. I wouldn’t say that And Soon The Darkness is the worst, by any means, and is definitely good enough to justify the reboot.
The film follows two best friends, Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman), who break away from their bicycling holiday in South America and stay in a small rural village in Argentina before they head back home to America.
They stay in a quaint hotel, then catch an early bus to meet back up with the group and catch their flight. So, with an evening to kill, they decide to head to a local bar for a few drinks and to check out the local talent. Ellie catches the eye of a local man, and soon Stephanie is left alone and heads back to her room to get some sleep, but is woken up by a disturbance between Ellie and the young man outside the room as he becomes a little forceful. The disturbance is broken up by another American, Michael (Karl Urban), staying at the hotel
The girls miss their bus due to sleeping in and have to pay to catch later flights and stay another day in the village. So, they decide to go to an isolated location for a spot of sunbathing, where an argument soon breaks out to the raised levels of tension from the night before. Stephanie leaves Ellie sunbathing and heads back to the hotel, but soon gets a message from her to meet at the bar where they drank the night before. When Ellie fails to show, Stephanie and Michael head back to the sunbathing location to find Ellie missing, but her mobile phone is still there, along with obvious signs of a struggle and some blood.
The police have little interest in the disappearance and Stephanie is unsure of who to trust. Short on time, Stephanie must find her friend whilst surrounded by locals who refuse to engage her in conversation, police who are unhelpful and a man she doesn’t completely trust.
Amber Heard, alongside her co-producer credit, stars in the film’s main role and it’s another interesting credit in a list of films that shows a preference for genre pieces and films outside of the mainstream. This is one of the better performances of hers that I’ve seen, and is a good showcase for her talents, as she carries much of the film whilst adding layers of emotion and development to her character that, in lesser hands, could have ended up being one-dimensional.
As well as being one of the better performances from Heard, I can say the same of Odette Yustman, although I have been far less impressed with her work today than I have been with Heard’s. Sure, Cloverfield is great, but that is by no means down to her performance, and The Unborn was pretty awful. Yustman’s character is quite annoying and unsympathetic, but she delivers a solid performance.
I’d have liked to see more from Karl Urban, who isn’t utilised nearly enough in his role as the frustrated ex-pat searching for his missing girlfriend. He’s a commanding presence whenever he’s on screen, but sadly, he’s not on screen nearly enough.
The film is well directed by first time director, Marcos Efron, and beautifully shot by cinematographer, Gabriel Beristain. And whilst And Soon The Darkness is not the most original thriller and is fairly predictable, it’s a credit to all of those involved that, despite it being incredibly predictable, there’s still a decent amount of tension and suspense.
It clocks in at a little under an hour and a half and is split neatly into three acts that fit within the three act structure of setup, confrontation and resolution, and equal time and attention is given to each. With the strict adherence to the structure, the film is paced incredibly well and delivers exactly what you would expect from a film of this type.
The visual aspect of the Blu-ray transfer brings out the best of Gabriel Beristain’s gorgeous cinematography, which makes the majority of the landscapes look beautiful and inviting, despite what’s happening on screen. There’s an incredible amount of detail in the transfer that more than justifies the upgrade over DVD.
The sound is also pretty good, although it doesn’t really make the most of the 5.1 surround for the most part. There are some incredible moments where it’s used to great effect, but for the majority of the film, it’s an afterthought.
Extras-wise there’s only a selection of deleted scenes on offer. Given the fact that it’s a straight to DVD release with a modest budget, the fact that its light on extras is kind of understandable. But an on location feature or a look at the cinematography would have been fantastic.
And Soon The Darkness is an above average thriller, albeit a rather predictable one, that has a decent enough transfer. Whilst I wouldn’t encourage anyone to rush out and buy the film, it’s well worth a rental if you’re in the mood for a thriller at the weekend.