DARKLANDS

4 Stars
Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 90 minutes
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An overzealous, investigative reporter pokes his nose in the wrong place, and incites a cult of revenge-seeking Druids. Of course, a beautiful woman’s to blame—or is she?

Julian Richards’ brooding noir, horror-thriller, Darklands, is set in a small factory-town in contemporary Wales. The general ambiance if described by a certain color, would be greige, and the citizenry has a definite aura of downtrodden-acceptance. We soon realize that something strange is lurking where you’d least expect—Lord of the Flies-style (1963)—in flashes of what looks like a ritual-sacrifice of a pig.

Meanwhile, at the newsroom, we meet Frazer Truick (Craig Fairbrass), an investigative reporter who works for an indecipherable editor-in-chief, named Carver (Dave Duffy). Truick is exactly what you’d expect—-intelligent, sullen, cynical, and extremely profane— though earlier on, Truick does settle down into almost angelic boyishness when he all too briefly speaks to a young woman who sparks his interest at a local bar. But alas, the beautiful but mysterious femme doesn’t appear to be the least bit interested in Truick — or so it seems…

All is status quo until that very same young woman is escorted into the newsroom the next day, and introduced as Rachel Morris (Rowena King), a cub-reporter seeking experience on the job. The intern is delegated to working with Truick and the two set off on an assignment in town. Shortly thereafter, Morris opens up to Truick that her brother died under very peculiar circumstances, and that she suspects foul play.

Truick’s interest is peaked, and he agrees to ask a few questions around town to learn more. Shortly thereafter, Morris shows her extreme gratitude to Truick, and the two begin a spark-flying affair of epic proportions. All the while, dead animals oddly appear in very public places in town, and the local minister alludes forebodingly to the return of angry Druids, and Truick’s possible link to their most unholy doings.

If all of this sounds like an escapade back to Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Wicker Man (1973), then you’re on the right track—sort of. But to dismiss Darklands as strictly a hybrid-clone of the two films just because there are certain similarities in concept and reminiscence is, in my opinion, a huge mistake. For one thing, all that’s known about Druid culture and practices is strictly based on mythology passed down through the ages, with no actual basis in fact. Furthermore, Darklands’ notable strength lies in is its ability to make us wonder if Truick wanders into this web of iniquity simply by accident, stupidity or for some other reason far more insidious.

In terms of cinematic structure and actor-talent, Darklands is about as professional as it gets. My only complaint is that the plot unfolds a bit too predictably in spots, which weakens the suspense-factor overall.

Interestingly, the award-winning Darklands premiered overseas in the year 1996. Thankfully, it’s finally made its way to the United States, so we too can have the opportunity to see this really fascinating return to horror as it was meant to be experienced, in all its gorish-glory.

This film was submitted for review through our Submission for Review system. If you have a film you’d like us to see, and we aren’t already looking into it on our own, you too can utilize this service.



Posted on October 30, 2013 in Reviews by
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