It’s an Irish horror film!
As a reviewer, I think it’s important for me to be open about my biases. Especially in October, I think it’s important for you to know that I love horror movies in general and that I especially tend to like low-budget horror films. You should also know that I tend to value positivity over negativity and, as a result, I’m always going to spend more time on what I like about a movie than on what I don’t like. I have no interest in joining in with the parade of bitterness that’s consumed so many otherwise intelligent people.
You should also know that I take a lot of pride in my Irish heritage. Whenever I get stressed out here in America, I remember visiting Argdlass two years ago. It calms me down. It makes me happy. I hope to be able to visit again soon. As a result, I’m naturally biased towards Irish films. That’s particularly true now, when I find myself often thinking about what life was like before the start of this year.
Needless to say, with those biases in mind, I was probably the ideal audience from From The Dark.
From The Dark open with a man named Mark (Stephen Cromwell) and a woman named Sarah (Niamh Algar) in a car. As I watched them drive across Ireland, I shouted, “I’ve done that!” When Mark and Sarah got lost while trying to navigate the Irish roads, I said, “I’ve done that.” When the car ends up getting stuck in mud, I said, “Yep, I’ve done that.” Finally, when Mark and Sarah approached a scary-looking farmhouse in the middle of the night while looking for help, I said, “Oh, Hell no!”
Once you’ve seen enough horror movies, you know that it’s always a mistake to approach a farmhouse in the middle of the night. Farmhouses are always full of either zombies or inbred rednecks or blood farmers. Stay away from the farmhouses! That’s what Sarah and Mark should have done because they soon find themselves being chased and attacked by a monster who seems to thrive on the darkness of the night….
Albeit uneven, From The Dark has its moments. The low-budget is obvious in almost every shot but the film makes good use of that farmhouse location and, even more importantly, it keeps us guessing about the monster that’s living there. Wisely, the film keeps the monster off-camera for as much as possible, leaving both the audience and Mark and Sarah to wonder where in the darkness it could be hiding. I’ve always felt that horror is more effective on a low-budget than a big budget and From The Dark shows why. The more expensive a monster is, the more obligated the filmmaker is going to be to show it off. Low-budget monsters, though, are usually kept off-camera for the majority of the film and therefore, they’re much more intimidating. There’s nothing scarier than what the human imagination can come up with and nothing sparks one’s imagination quicker than trying to figure out what might be hiding in the dark.
From the Dark does have some pacing issues. As much as I enjoyed the footage of the Irish countryside, the scenes of Sarah and Mark driving dragged a bit. As well, Sarah and Mark aren’t always the most sympathetic of protagonists. Usually, I don’t mind it when characters in horror films do stupid things because, quite frankly, we all do stupid things. But when there’s only two humans in the entire film, it’s a lot easier to dwell on the dumb things that they did that led to them getting in their dire situation in the first place.
Taking all of that into consideration, From the Dark may be imperfect but, when it works, it’s effectively creepy. Plus, it’s Irish!