I wonder what inspired Canada’s Audrey Cumming to make Darken. I can see the parallels between this story and its characters beliefs and Plato’s Cave Myth. A woman, Karisse (Gabrielle Graham), believes that there is a world outside the titular Darken. That world’s leader, Charity (Christine Horne), exiles her.
Karisse leaves Darken and ends up in front of a doorway where Eve (Bea Santos) is standing. Karisse tells Eve that there are others inside. Eve makes the wrong assumption that these others are people with injuries like Karisse. She goes inside a building that won’t let her out, maybe ever.
This is how Cummings decides to begin her movie, by introducing this steampunk dystopia. She brings enough polish in this world. That despite being unable to hide that she shot half of this in a school. And shot the other half in the place where cops jailed G20 protesters.
In exchange of this world is introducing characters speaking in a sci-fi vernacular that might alienate some audiences. What Cummings could have done instead is introduce a person in a more familiar world entering this rabbit hole. She might have wanted to introduce the dystopia first to humanize the characters within it.
However, that’s more of an inevitability despite of how much time we spend with them. It was fun watching Horne and Ari Miller, who plays her right hand man Martin, ham it up. It also contrasts the film’s token ‘real world’ person, Eve, who just asks the other characters what’s happening.
Darken bills itself as a female-driven sci-fi film, showing both the good and the bad sides of that gender. There’s also the theme of rebellion that we’ve seen before in Cummings’ other film Berkshire County. These messages can’t hide how messy the final product ended up.
BITS pairs the film with Banshee. It’s a short film about girls going through other dimensions and not getting along with each other.