Western Europe, 1945. The gentle, thoughtful, and sensitive Losey and the mean, base, and vicious Deming are two radically contrasting American soldiers who desert their platoons during the... See full summary »
Western Europe, 1945. The gentle, thoughtful, and sensitive Losey and the mean, base, and vicious Deming are two radically contrasting American soldiers who desert their platoons during the final days of World War II. The pair stumble across a ragtag group of orphans who have been trained as ruthless killers. The two soldiers, the orphans, and the two adults who serve as surrogate parents to the children are forced to make a desperate stand against a Nazi tank battalion who have them trapped inside an old crumbling building. Written by
The German soldiers in the tank battalion were played by Romanian army officers. See more »
One of the AWOL soldiers is a paratrooper from the 82nd Airborne Division. He wears the correct airborne-style helmet, which has a chin cup and extra reinforcing straps. The other GI is a regular ground infantryman whose helmet should have a standard, simple strap with no chin cup. However, he too is wearing an airborne helmet. See more »
The world can be a beautiful place. If you just look at it right.
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Outside "The Offspring" and "Night of the Scarecrow" Jeff Burr might be recognised as a journeyman for commercial horror sequels (for the likes of "The Stepfather", "Pumpkinhead", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Puppet Master"); while competently fun still they were mechanically pitched. However Burr's "Straight into Darkness" feels more personal (being dedicated to his dead father), and I would say it's his most accomplished and creative production where its independent tailoring help provide his own vision. Burr's streamlined direction really did surprise me here, where it was more artistic, strange and atmospheric like something out of Michael Mann's 1983 "The Keep" (although there's nothing supernatural going on) actually it's has the same surreal, dream-like feel where I would see it as a mixture of "The Keep" and definitely "Castle Keep" and throw in "Freaks (1932)". Burr interweaves a fairy-tale air amongst the horrifying spiral into the macabre madness of war. Again it's rather atypical, more so an uncompromising journey story of redemption and affiliation than just an all-out assault on the senses. Sure there's explosions and gunfire, but its trimmed and meaningfully unsettling in its execution. Especially the hanging trees' scene and the eerie final sequences involving an armed band of deformed orphan children taking on a German battalion with a tank, where its depiction of innocence shows it's never spared in war. The reason given to why the Germans are attacking them comes as a surprise, and only makes it even more gut wrenching. I wouldn't call it perfect, as the tight script is predictably penned and the moody narrative can be confounded by rapidly jerky flashback sequences that really don't share any light upon the characters, but just add more emotional baggage from the vague imagery.
Two deserting American soldiers in the final days of WW2 managed to escape from custody by surviving a bombing attack on their vehicle. They head off in to the snowy European woods where they try to survive and this would go on to show how these two men really tick -- as one is psychotic while the other is naïve. While holding up in an abandoned house, they encounter a ragtag of orphan children who bare the scars of the war.
I wasn't expecting much, but Burr projects a desolate, forlorn war-torn landscape amongst the picturesque Romanian backdrop. Stylishly striking set-pieces are formed, as the earthy action is beautifully poised, but at the same time hard-hitting and suspenseful. How the action and music went hand to hand had me thinking of Alex Cox's "Walker" haunting scoring cues with slow-motion, emotionally over-wrought illustrations. It can be reflective -- pouring in blood and sweat, demons and pain with dark underlining.
The performances of Scott MacDonald and James Legros as the deserting American GIs are commendably good. The script could have done a better job in delving into these two characters than it did, because there were complexities dug up. But motives are quickly squeezed out. A gruff looking David Warner appears and Daniel Roebuck also. The kids are convincing in their roles.
Nothing spectacular, but quite an aspiring and gripping low-budget indie war effort.
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