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There's nothing wrong with paying respect to your influences. Many a genre film past and present has done this, and sometimes to great success. It's usually for not though, as many directors trying to respect the directors and movies that they love end up coming off as immature fan-boys or people without an original bone in their body. While Marc De Launay's "Dark Nature" doesn't fall for those traps, it's still a mess.
Somewhere in Scotland, a very dysfunctional family is on vacation. There's a bit of a problem though-there's a killer whose knocking people off. Oh, and some of the requisite oddball characters who exist only to be killed show up as well.
There are a few things "Dark Nature" get's right. The score is pretty good, some of the cinematography and footage of nature is beautiful, and the gore is pretty cool. That's where the fun ends though, as much of the movie is De Launay paying tribute to the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava ("Twitch of the Death Nerve" seems to be the primary influence here,) "Friday the 13th" and old ecological horror films like "Long Weekend." While he manages to thankfully do so without pilfering from said movies, he still gets a whole lot wrong.
For one thing, it's never that scary or intriguing. The aforementioned movies and directors managed to create a sense of dread and suspense to go with everything else. However, the director here seems clueless as to how to do that, as he can't even pull off a decent atmosphere. Also, all of the characters are extremely annoying. People like the entomologist and the psychic are supposed to be interesting in an odd way, but they are more annoying if anything. And don't get me started with the family, especially the daughter. So much time is spent with this obnoxious bitch that the viewer is left exhausted.
And then there's all of the talk. There's a lot of it here-and let it be known there is a difference between dialog and talk. Dialogue is interesting and helps with the characters. This movie is so talky that there were moments in which I started to remember the films of Andy Milligan-and that's not a good thing. Oh, and let's not forget the whole ecological message in the movie, which in a shocking surprise falls flat. The film wants to be a commentary on man's mistreatment of nature, yet it can't make that work. It instead comes off as a poor man's mix of "Friday the 13th" and Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist."
It's a shame that I didn't like the movie, as there are a few neat things in it, and I do think that it had potential to be good. What I got though was a talky, boring mess of a movie. I expect better, and the audience deserves better too. At least it's better than the movies of Dante Tomaselli.
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