Plunge Into Darkness (1977 TV Movie)
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Low-key Aussie import is unlikely to emerge as anyone's all-time favorite film, but considering its very apparent tight-fisted funding, PLUNGE INTO DARKNESS is a fairly commensurate product. The central characters are a group of happy-go-lucky thirtysomethings taking holiday in 'terra incognita' when, by mere chance, they find themselves beleaguered by a couple of loutish prison escapees, and a criminally unbalanced child as well!
As ultimately inconsequential as it is, PLUNGE INTO DARKNESS remains a thoroughly watchable and casually enjoyable entry-level endeavor which could possibly have benefited from a less optimistic conclusion to synchronize with the film's overall downbeat tone. this is a dismissable gripe, however, for an unexpectedly entertaining third-string picture.
"Plunge Into Darkness" is a brisk 76 minutes, proficiently directed and acted, but rife with illogical character choices which strain credulity to near the breaking point; and any viewer who has ever seen a suspense film will foresee the climactic "twist" about 20 mins in; the omens are risibly obvious.
Two convicts, brothers, escape from a remote prison; it is immediately established that they pose some danger when they club a prison guard after he stumbles upon them stealing some rations. Next we are introduced to a man and his wife who want to drive out to the country for a holiday. He is an erstwhile Alpha-male, a former champion runner who refuses to accept an age-related decline in his athleticism (read: virility). Some distance into their journey, the couple passes by a deserted house with a dog barking furiously at a scarecrow nearby. For some reason this intrigues the wife, and she insists that they double back to investigate. As it turns out, the scarecrow is actually a murdered man, and his better half is also found killed inside the empty house. An ostensibly frightened boy evades the sojourners' attempts to question him until the husband finally collars him. The adolescent, apparently in shock, sputters something unintelligible, and our protagonist couple assumes him to be the son of the two homicide victims. Naturally, both cars on-scene happen to, by screenwriter's convenience, suddenly not start. Instead of staying for a while to try to repair one of the cars, wait for help, or even search the house for a means of alerting authorities (!!), hubby rashly makes the brilliant decision to run 28 km by himself to the nearest town for help, leaving his wife and the boy (about whom he knows nothing) behind to fend for themselves?!
As it turns out, the boy, thought to be newly orphaned, is a hair-trigger psychotic, who murdered the two victims after they picked him up hitchhiking. Meanwhile, panting, halfway to his destination, hubby bumps into the escaped cons and, in another Ivy-league moment, sends them gratefully in the direction of his wife. Licking their chops, they are equally grateful.
Suffice it to say, all turns out okay for the innocent couple by the time this silliness winds down. Despite how I've made it sound, "Plunge into Darkness" is not bad, as long as you can suspend a significant chunk of your disbelief and submit to the fairly involving chain of events.