Only Darkness 1999
Directed by: Mitchell Morgan
Starring: Nicole Streak, Crispin Manson, Edmund Dehn
Review by Luisjo González
The two films I get asked about most here on a Slash above are Legend of Moated Manor and Only Darkness as they’re both on my my A-Z slasher list. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve lost count of the amount of emails I’ve received from you guys and gals about that double. Well I’m finally going to post a review of one of them and I hope that it answers some of your questions. Britain doesn’t have a great reputation with it’s output within the slasher genre, so there’s certainly a gap in the market for a decent entry from those shores. Only Darkness came out hot on the heels of Scream, but a traditional slasher movie, it’s definitely not. In fact, it’s barely a slasher movie at all, but it’s more like a giallo and even that doesn’t really describe it.
Paul Salem is a horror author who writes screenplays for slasher movies. Salem wants to write in other genres and move away from the horror stereotype, but his agent tries to convince him otherwise. One evening, whilst he is driving home, he comes across a young girl who is fleeing an assailant. The young girl moves in temporarily to the author’s house, but the maniac is closing in on her…
Out of Darkness is certainly a strange creature and it defies traditional description. It definitely does belong on this page, but it’s not a duplicate of either Halloween or Scream. I prefer silent antagonists that kill without being given a characterisation, but the assassin here has basic dialogue. Another strange thing about OD is that the antagonist flees from the hero, which totally dilutes his fear factor. This is all explained in the big revelation, but what could have been an extremely authentic twist doesn’t end up making a lick of sense. Whilst trying not to give anything away, one murder is explained in the conclusion, but the slaughter of the doctor? What about that? I’ve always said that guns don’t belong in a slasher movie because you can’t ‘slash’ with a pistol, but the nutjob here uses a beretta to murder one victim and it disappointed me. One way that Michell Morgan’s screenplay really succeeds is that it plays with the roles of the ‘final girl’ and the ‘maniac’. I can’t really say much more without giving away the twist, but the open ending leaves interesting questions. I thought it was a supremely intelligent idea to play with the rules that way, but as I said above, the screenwriter made a clear error.
This was shot on video in the late nineties when British SOV flicks were not just a rarity, they totally didn’t exist. It’s IMDB page has zero reviews and no one has even ranked it. What is interesting is that the VHS I own is not in a typical British video case, it’s one of the types of covers used in the American rental market, which begs the question was this only released stateside? A Google search reveals minimal information on this feature and it is completely obscure. It’s all put together in a fairly basic manner and the performances are competent, but not exceptional. I’ve never been able to understand how two directors are able to work on one feature film, but we get a duo in the hot seat(s) here. The pair released two more movies that actually have rankings on the IMDB, but their last effort was over twelve years ago. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters, but I didn’t hate them either, so I was intrigued to find out how it would all conclude. One thing that I loved about ther movie was that every character is seen smoking cigarettes. I miss the old days when people were real in movies. I smoked for many years, but it wasn’t cinema that made me do it. Nowadays, every person in filmland is woke, doesn’t smoke, drink too much or do drugs. Give me Wolf Of Wall Street anyday over Many Saints of Newark. In real life, people I meet smoke crack, snort coke, puff on cigarillos and I’ve met hundreds of racists at work or in clubs. I’ve received racism myself. Producers consider their audiences idiots, but most people don’t want to view fairytales.
There’s not much more that I can tell you about Only Darkness, because it’s the type of film where too much information will ruin it for viewers. It’s a giallo with a pretty small body count, but it’s not a whodunit. There is a revelation in the final scene, but it’s not what you’re used to seeing. I’ve never viewed a movie similar to this and I guess I must praise that.