Claustrophobic and hallucinatory films have been a staple of the horror and thriller genres since the earliest days of film. Some works of Roman Polanski such as Repulsion and The Tenant or the early Cronenberg film Shivers are still prime examples as well as modern films like 1408 or Buried. A new film from director Nick Basile and executive produced by genre legend Joe Dante takes a look at a similar paranoia and claustrophobia during the 2003 blackout, an actual event many of us can instantly relate to. It is titled Dark.
During the 2003 blackout, Kate (Whitney Able), a struggling model who just moved in with her girlfriend in New York City, is left alone in their apartment after their relationship shows early signs of trouble. Now alone during the blackout, Kate begins to suspect she is being stalked by someone in the building. With no one to help her Kate is forced to confront her deepest fears if she is to survive until morning.
Dark is definitely a throwback film, a film that seems heavily inspired by the films of Polanski, DePalma, Hitchcock, and Cronenberg. And that is not a bad thing. Dark still has an identity all its own and never panders or replicates movies that came before it, Dark just knows they existed and echoes their themes. Basile crafts a slow burn thriller that is heavy on atmosphere and has an incredibly deliberate build of tension. Whitney Able plays Kate’s eventual breakdown with great conviction and does it so incrementally you barely notice it happening. It is a subtle but very calculated performance.
Dark is not the type of thriller you would expect in 2016. There are no fast cuts, no hyper HD polished look, no slick CG effects. This is a film with a solid, filmic look that is beautiful but naturalistic, well shot but not overproduced, and atmospheric without having the tension shoved down your throat. It is a film left to the talents of the people making it to do right. The writing is smart and no nonsense, the direction confident and classic, the acting nuanced and realistic. Dark is a thriller that will keep creeping into your consciousness for quite a while after the lights come back on. Highly recommended.
Dark will be released on DVD/VOD in the US on June 7 by Screen Media and is Now Available On Demand overseas.