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  • Writer's pictureBen Pivoz

Out Of Darkness

A prehistoric tribe battles a vicious evil in Out of Darkness (Distributed by Bleecker Street Media)

Out of Darkness is a bare-bones survival thriller. Set in the distant past, it is about the remaining members of a tribe traveling to a new land and encountering a brutal enemy that already calls that place home. There is a little here about gender roles and the human tendency to be terrified of what we don’t understand. But it is mostly a tension-filled adventure, with a good sense of mood, foreboding atmosphere and sudden violence. The sequences where the story focuses on ominous noises in the dark/fog or the conflict between hiding from the horror and attempting to fight it are effective. The rest is pretty uneven.

45,000 years ago, a group of six humans cross the sea on a journey to a better life. On the edge of a forest, they come across a vicious, mysterious, evil, that forces them to fight for their lives.

Out of Darkness does try to set itself apart in terms of style. Nearly every frame of this seems to be screaming at the characters to get away from this place. The look of the movie is overcast; very dark at night (besides the fire they sit around; though that makes the enveloping darkness even more frightening), still not totally clear during the day. Danger is always somewhere in their vicinity. Director Andrew Cumming and writer Ruth Greenberg (both making their feature debuts) take a bit of a risk by having the characters speak entirely in a made-up dialect (with English subtitles, of course) meant to simulate prehistoric language.

That aspect of the production is successful. I’m no historian, so I have no idea if it is remotely accurate to the way these people would have spoken, yet it works very well thematically. It enhances their isolation because it feels like they are speaking to each other in a language only they know. Everything else is unfamiliar to them. That builds on their (as well as our) unease with their situation. They have left behind all that they know and have no way of easily connecting with their new surroundings. That complete lack of familiarity is a significant part of what is scary here.

Adem (Chuku Modu) and Geirr (Kit Young) try to track their enemy

The scenes of horror, where something is stalking them in the darkness, are good. Menace is practically dripping off the screen as the characters either run after it in desperation or stand frozen in fear by the fire. Cumming keeps us from seeing what they are up against until the last fifteen minutes or so and that is absolutely a strength here. Every step of their journey is one further into the unknown. Giving them or the viewer the chance to prepare for whatever is coming by unveiling the threat earlier would have released some of that tension and made this far less unnerving. Cumming definitely seems to know what he’s doing with the thriller material.

The drama involving the gender and leadership politics of the group is not nearly as interesting. It is simplistic and feels more in line with modern sensibilities than with how people might have thought about things way back when. The characters never come off as individuals, which probably does fit with the time period, but makes the time not spent on them being prey fairly dull.

Out of Darkness is a unique spin on the “evil lurking in the dark” horror subgenre, due in large part to its setting. Overall, it is okay, with a few strong suspense scenes and, at only 82 minutes (not including the end credits), Cumming knows how to get in and out efficiently. I’m certainly curious to see what he comes up with next.


3 out of 5



Safia Oakley-Green as Beyah

Kit Young as Geirr

Chuku Modu as Adem

Iola Evans as Ave

Arno Lüning as Odal

Luna Mwezi as Heron


Directed by Andrew Cumming

Written by Ruth Greenberg

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