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I too saw this film at the recent AFI festival in L.A. and thought it was absolutely amazing - an extremely original and enigmatic mind bender, it reminded me of a cross between Rosenary's Baby and Lost Highway. Having said that, I can see that this film is definitely a love it or hate it kind of deal. I actually went back for the second screening and felt that both audiences were generally extremely receptive (the people sitting either side of me gave it top marks) and were particular enthusiastic on the second day during the Q&A with director and Thora Birch. Personally, I would consider this an absolute must see.
At least until you've seen it for yourself. A relatively small number
of people have voted on it, so its rating is up in the air. Anyway, I
found this movie to be very interesting. Here's what I have to say
about it. My summary is at the top and the longer explanation is at the
SHORT: Genuinely frightening and dark, as well as psychologically complex and chilling. If you can look past the non-linear plot and confusing pace of the film, then you will enjoy this addition to the horror movie genre. 6 out of 10.
LONG: This movie can be somewhat confusing and its direction takes a very schizophrenic approach to showing events in the movie. That can understandably be a turn off for some people, but the fact of the matter is that the direction is one of the elements that helps make Dark Corners a scary flick. From the get-go you have no idea if what the heroine is experiencing is real or imagined. The story follows the life of a woman who's trying to get pregnant; at night she has nightmares and cycles between her life and that of the woman in her dreams.
In the dark surrealistic world of her dreams, she sees people being violently murdered and is killed herself several times. The multiple cuts from fantasy to reality, as well as the camera angles help to unsettle the viewer and put them on edge, leaving them vulnerable to the movie's numerous scare scenes. And as much as they would cut from one scene to another, I never felt cheated or that it was over-done, because Karen's story with her pregnancy would always advance at an adequate pace. As for story, it cryptic all the way to the end, yet we are given small clues along the way. The ending itself is a little flat, yet creepy and appropriate.
The acting was awesome. I loved Karen's actress and that of her husband; they had great chemistry that made you want to watch their banter scenes. Supporting characters were okay. I felt their character parts were more of a draw than what the actual actors brought to the table.
Scares. This movie is genuinely scary! At times it is disgusting and disturbing, but does not have over-the-top gore. It doesn't rely on cheap jump-out scares too much, but instead relies on atmosphere and horrific situations. The two scenes in the mortuary were really what got me. You have to see them for yourself--classic, grade-A American horror. I was impressed.
So for its great scares, atmosphere, and good characters and acting, I give Dark Corners a 6 out of 10. Though the direction and pace of the film may be confusing and off-putting, the plot and story are there. This film is also more entertaining then a lot of other direct-to-DVD horror flicks that have more linear plots, yet look like they were made for the Sci-fi channel. *cough* Bottom Feeder *cough*
I caught this movie several months ago, and it was only after happening
to come across it in my collection recently that I realized it was
really worth commenting on here. So here goes.
Firstly, my brief take on the plot: Karen Clarke lives in a city where dark and horrifying things exist just beyond the edge of her vision. Susan Hamilton is a happily married woman suffering from recurring nightmares. Each considers the other to be the person they become in their dreams. So who is real? Now, this is not one of those "are you sure this is low-budget?" productions. There are numerous qualities about this film which make it very clear to the viewer that we are, in fact, in the land of independent financing, ranging from certain scenes shot like they're using 1950s camera equipment to the typical "small roles filled by people with all the emotions of a cardboard box" syndrome. This even extends to one of the more significant minor roles, an older blond woman whose acting ability alternates between competent and "Plan 9 From Outer Space" depending on the scene.
With that said, there's still something to this film. It takes a bit to get going, with the first 30-40 minutes leaving the viewer with a lot of puzzle pieces and very few ways to connect them, but the pieces themselves are reasonably interesting. Once we hit the halfway mark, however, things begin to connect a bit more. Most of it is executed well, leaving the viewer feeling neither confused nor as though they've been led by the nose. A few times, however, clues are all but identified with bright neon signs, particularly a seemingly pointless conversation which suddenly draws attention to itself with a rather unorthodox camera pan. The presentation otherwise is excellent, with many of the scenes set in the "dark" city just about oozing a sense of corruption and decay. Much of the content is surprisingly robust as well, with a lot of allegory and outright symbolism present throughout. (Though the significance of it all isn't truly clear until the end of the film) While the smaller roles are filled with the typical low-budget riff-raff, the principals all do an excellent job in this film. Thora Birch is entertaining to watch and, as always, you can sympathize with her character(s) almost instantly. Toby Stephens gives a short, interesting, and dark performance which is perfect for the film, and in a pleasant surprise Alan Perrin makes a highly intriguing detective in both "sides" of the narrative.
However, the real winning part of this film is the final reveal, the "twist" if you will. While it isn't what I would call exactly genius, it's still pretty clever; even the most observant of viewers will at best be able to determine part of the twist, but not all. More importantly, the reveal is both creepy and satisfying, albeit in a Schadenfreude-y kind of way. It's a worthy payoff for 90 minutes of invested time.
BOTTOM LINE: It's not really award worthy and it's certainly not perfect, but it's entertaining and has a wonderfully satisfying-yet-creepy ending. If you're a fan of "twist" movies like Memento and Sixth Sense but prefer a "darker" feel this may be right up your alley.
Forget the "Arrow in the Head" review, I caught this movie at a screening in Cannes last weekend and really enjoyed it. Dark, twisted and challenging (with liberal doses of very black humour: Mister Kyrke-Smith the mortician is hysterical) this is more "Rosemary's Baby" meets "Jacob's Ladder" than Jason-style slasher crap. It is something of a conundrum, but it makes a change for film-makers not to assume that the audience are idiots in need of spoon feeding. Watch closely as there appears to be clues and symbolic references scattered throughout the film - not sure I got all of them, but definitely looking forward to a second viewing. Probably not your standard multiplex fare, but if you like to think about movies and you get a chance, do go see it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Dark Corners" is a bizarre and twisted psychological horror/thriller
that centers around a young woman, Susan Hamilton (Thora Birch), who is
happily married to her husband, David (Christien Anholt), and is
desperately trying to conceive a child through a special fertilization
process, since she is unable to naturally have kids. Things seem to be
going alright, except for the strange nightmares that Susan suffers
from, in which she is another woman, Karen. But as time goes by, Susan
begins to question the lines of what is and isn't real as she finds
herself terrorized and stalked by a man who has been committing murders
in her community.
In the tradition of films like "Jacob's Ladder" and others, the premise that this film is grounded in has been done a few times, and it seems like it's a difficult thing to accomplish, because most films with this type of theme tend to be rather poor. I will say that "Dark Corners" does have some good things going for it though. While it didn't necessarily get any real fear out of me, there were some well-written scenes and a couple of clever camera tricks to be found. The sets were appropriately eerie as well, and the contrasts between the Susan and Karen worlds were intense - Susan's being very white and pure, while Karen's was dark and filthy. But the script here was a little bit muddled.
I know, I know, these types of psychological horror thrillers are typically known for being somewhat hard to follow, and this one was no exception. It lost me a couple of times, only for me to catch up eventually, and I was paying attention. Things don't really "mesh" (for lack of a better term) together well, and it felt to me that the script was kind of half baked. The premise of the nightmare world versus reality is intriguing (even though it has been done before), but it just didn't feel fully developed here. As for the acting, Thora Birch leads our cast as the mentally disturbed main character, and is good as usual. The supporting cast is mostly unknowns, and some of the acting was a little choppy. As for the film's conclusion, well, it was interesting, although it still doesn't resolve much. But maybe that was the point of the film, to pose questions and let you make up your own answer? Problem is I had a lot of trouble piecing things together to come up with my own conclusion.
Overall, "Dark Places" is a bit of a half baked psychological horror film that failed to impress me. If you've seen a film with the same basic premise (blurring lines of reality and imagination), this film isn't much different. It has a few nice moments here and there, and Birch was entertaining to watch - but overall I felt this was a rather weak and underdeveloped film. Could have been better, I suppose. You may want to give it a try, but if the odds are against you, you might as well pass on this one. 4/10.
Once again people who dislike horror movies seemed to have rated this movie low... This is a horror movie so if you like horror movies then you will like it! It had a genuinely creepy feeling which was great for this movie. In fact it was made pretty artistically because it goes from her normal life where everything is super bright to the point where it almost hurts your eyes, then her dreamself which is really dark and morbid. There is a lot of symbolism in this film and a killer ending. I love movies with twisted endings that aren't predictable. If you pay close attention to details you can begin to figure out a few things, but its hard to guess. This was an original idea, and pulled off really well. This would have gotten a higher rating if they created more suspense, I mean there was a few good parts but for how great the story was they could have done a better job!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DARK CORNERS is a mysterious, complex and dark thriller with a great
surreal cinematography and confusing plot. It's all about a woman,
Susan Hamilton (played by Thora Birch), that is having some terrible
nightmares, in which appears another woman being stalked by a strange
man. These nightmares seem to be each time more real, and she decides
to visit a psychiatrist, Dr. Woodleigh (Toby Stephens), recommended by
one friend of hers. The consult starts to be a little strange because
he quickly finds out what's happening to her, like by magic
her in some kind of hypnotic therapy, and through her dream, he
"killed" the woman in her dream that was disturbing her, relieving
Susan from her painful nightmares
or at least he thinks he did
fact, he didn't! Let's see why, later
As I said this film has really a great cinematography in my point of view, because it has great scenarios/settings, very good camera shots, good characterization, and especially a surreal and dark ambiance that turns it mysterious and odd. I even think this cinematography was a bit inspired by David Lynch's work, especially if we think about the bizarre characters (like the old lady that is waiting in Dr. Woodleigh's consulting room, when Susan arrives, or the strange people that surround the woman in the dream), the duplication of the same character (Thora Birch is Susan, the main character, but she's also Karen Clark, the dream's woman) or finally the extremely bizarre scenarios and ambiences created (principally on Susan's dreams).
But this film also has a very open ending that can easily provide many theories to the plot When the movie ended I was extremely confused about what was happening, like any person that watches this film, but one scene was persisting on my mind as an important key to solve the mystery: when Susan says "I think that's what hell is..It's having your sins pulled out from the dark corners of your soul and served up to you in this endless loop of torture."! I found it very deep and I knew it would have some kind of significance to solve the mystery, but I didn't know how! Until I read two previous comments here in IMDb that really explain what happened in this movie! Remember when I told you that the psychiatrist had put Susan in a hypnotic therapy and killed the woman in her dream? In fact he didn't, in the dream, but he did it in the real life! Let's take it by parts:
In the end we see the woman of Susan's dream, Karen, to pursue the mysterious guy that stalked her during the entire film. The guy enters in Susan house provoking a shock between these two supposed separated "worlds". If Karen is just a dream, someone that dwells in Susan's mind, how can she enter in Susan's home? The viewer asks. But then, when she enters deeper in the house she finds Susan dead, in her bed, in a pool of blood, and she looks at the mirror, and who do we see? Karen? No, we see Dr. Woodleigh, the psychiatrist! Suddenly, Susan's husband (David, played by Christian Anholt) enters in the bedroom and he looks at "Karen" and who does he see? Again, Dr. Woodleigh! Yes, that's true, he's the killer! And what about Karen? Who is she anyway? So there it is my explanation to the movie (the same of these two users I did refer before!):
The real life is what happens to Susan, the subplot about Karen is just the looping hell where Dr. Woodleigh fell after he die by Susan's husband hands (after David find the psychiatrist next to her dead wife's body it is suggested that he spanks him, probably until death)! Or like one of those users said:" Do you ever wonder what happens to rapists and murderers when they finally get to hell? Answer: they get to relive their crimes, over and over, from the point of view of the victim". That's the explanation to the plot that's hidden in that line spoken by Susan: "I think that's what hell is..It's having your sins pulled out from the dark corners of your soul and served up to you in this endless loop of torture". Beside, we can remember that the people that surrounded "Karen", in those strange and bizarre scenarios, had very weird faces and behaviours, seeming to be more like demoniac creatures than human
The other user I mentioned made me remember of another important thing: this kind of plot, and consequent explanation, is not as original as many may think. Like him/her, I also saw a movie some time ago called SALVAGE which had the same kind of plot and explanation!
It's a surreal and metaphysical explanation to the plot, but it's the more logical one in my point of view, and I'm quite sure it was the director's idea making this film.
The acting is very good, especially by Thora Birch. She does an incredibly job, playing these two different characters, Susan and Karen. About the soundtrack I think it could have been better.
Anyway, it's really a sinister and mysterious movie, with a great cinematography, just the way I use to appreciate so I will score it 10/10!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
stalked by creatures... where are those creatures? there's not a single
creature in this movie (imdb plot description) i've to give you some
spoilers to make you understand what this movie is all about; thora has
psychological problems and in her nightmares she lives another life as
a super hot dark girl (she should really stay like that). as movie
progresses reality and nightmares gets closer and closer to each other
and in the end you realize that this all or at least a big part of all
was the reality and we were watching it, just from her perspective.
putting all the pieces together is really hard, if thora was the murderer (both shrink and dark thora has a smashed fingernail so they are probably the same person) who was the blonde thora? someone completely else? was that guy dark thora's ex-lover and they part ways and she turn back and killed his wife (blonde thora)? either that or blonde one were also thora so we have a multiple personalities psyco here... i mean, in the end, shrink kills blonde thora, dark thora turns into blonde thora's husband and kills the shrink. dang, who is who?
so it's that kind of a movie, it's surreal, it's psychological and it's not a movie where creatures stalking you and then killing you.
This dark thriller isn't bad, its not great, but certainly watchable and suspenseful. The acting is good. Thora Birch gave a pretty nice performance even though she sometimes didn't seem to really understand her character. the atmosphere is great. The dream was good, and the nightmare was dark and disturbing. and it had a morale to the story. Though a lot of people might not like it (which might contribute to the low rating). It will also please gorehounds, as there is plenty of brutality and blood. I think it should have a little higher rating. Its definitely worth the watch if you come across it. I rate it 6/10 Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, terror, and brief nudity
Although this might be a B grade movie, it is well polished and kept me guessing right to the end. It's not every day that a good quality B grade movie is presented to us, and I think that it could actually pass for a A grade. Well done! I wish A grade movies are made this good. Do not bother with bad reviews, give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised and am sure you will be too. Although there are times when the acting is not at its best, it had me holding my sides at certain points while looking around in the spooky corners of my house at others. I give this a big thumbs up and award it 10. This movie was beautifully edited and definitely worthy to be part of anyone's collection. I will definitely be buying it to add to my collection of DVD's.
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