As a species we’ve been afraid of things that go bump in the night for as long as history has recorded. There have even been some pretty good horror films made that take place in times periods different than our own. As far as we can recall however, there has never been a horror film that takes place during the stone age. All of that is about to change however thanks to director/writer Andrew Cumming’s new film Out of Darkness.
Out of Darkness takes place 45,000 years ago in the Scottish highlands, and follows the story of a small tribe who have landed on a barren shore. They hope to find food and shelter, but instead find themselves having to camp outside with nothing to eat. They travel inland towards the distant hills in hopes of finding a cave, and end up running afoul of strange black shapes and eerie sounds at night. They find themselves in a fight for their lives, instead of the promising new home they were looking for.
Some films can be difficult to review, and Out of Darkness is one of them. On one hand the cinematography is amazing, and Cummings does a great job building tension around the tribe’s situation. The suspenseful music just adds to the overall eerie presentation. Even the fact that the filmmakers not only went out of their way to create a new language, but have the actors learn it, shows the dedication behind making a great film on all sides. The research for the time period is exceptional as well, showing the amount of work that must have went in to make things as accurate as possible. Unfortunately that’s where the good part of the review ends.
The film itself has a very thin plot and drags along. We’ve all seen this type of story before, and unfortunately Out of Darkness offers nothing new. It’s the paranoia of the group towards the unknown that drives the story forward, and without a strong payoff in the end it feels like a bit of a letdown. It comes off being more preachy about fear and understanding of something different than it does in trying to make us truly scared. The cast also doesn’t look right for the parts they are playing. They all look more like GQ models prancing around in furs than they do prehistoric humans. The point is, they look too clean to be able to claim they are from that time period. At the very least they could have had a bit more make-up applied to appear dirtier, or to cover their perfect teeth. It’s really distracting, and takes you out of the film.
Out of Darkness is ambitious, but not ambitious enough to get the job done. It’s almost like they ran out of money and had to sacrifice some things to get other things to work. It’s not a terrible movie, but suspending your disbelief is tough to do, which can make it hard to watch.