A young girl, Johanna Ravn, is jogging in the woods, when she's suddenly attacked by a man in an orange jumpsuit. Her assailant drills a hole in her skull and leaves her for dead. When the police calls Johanna's father, Morten Ravn, to ask him to identify his daughter's body in the morgue, he tells them that she has just walked in and is sitting in front of her PC... But there's something wrong with Johanna. Black oil is flowing from her eyes and the only message she's able to type on her screen is one long cry for help. And she's not alone. All over town, people are attacked by men in orange jumpsuits with electrical drills. The victims all suffer from the same symptoms, with their bodies slowly disintegrating in front of their loved ones. Frustrated with the lack of results from the local police, Morten takes it on himself to investigate the attacks and tracks the killer back to his hideout in secluded manufacturing plant where he begins to uncover the secrets behind the assaults ... Written by
If Abel Ferrara's DRILLER KILLER and Larry Cohen's THE STUFF were dropped inside a Magimix and the resulting concoction seasoned with a dusting of tongue-in-cheek humour it'd likely end up looking something like Mathieu Peteul and Cesar Ducasse's DARK SOULS.
The film opens with a teenage girl named Johanna (Johanna Gustavsson) jogging alone through the woods. She barely has time to build up a sweat before a sinister figure dressed in orange overalls wrestles her to the ground and bores a hole into the side of her head with an electric drill. Later, moments after she returns home, her father Morten (Morten Ruda) receives a phone call from the police pronouncing her dead. His joking and laughing is soon turned to shock when she starts vomiting up thick black bile.
It turns out she is the first victim of a bizarre wave of attacks involving a mysterious black liquid which transforms otherwise healthy individuals into mindless, rotting zombies. As his daughter slowly loses control of her bodily functions and her skin begins to blacken and decay, a distraught Morten takes it upon himself to go track down those responsible.
Fans of Chris Morris' JAM will no doubt find plenty of laughs in the ludicrousness of Morten's situation as Johanna slowly becomes his pet zombie but the film is also at times a sensitive portrait of fatherly devotion. And when Morten is shown watching old Super 8 family films with his daughter's limp, rotten body propped beside him it's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry.
Lazy clichés such as the slasher movie's 'last woman standing' rule are subverted: our hero is not a nubile teenager but a bewildered, overweight father looking for the man who drilled his daughter, leaving her zombified. References to horror classics are skillful and witty, for example the homeless oil diver's expositional monologue which mirrors Quint's famous speech in JAWS. Winner of Best Horror at the Manhattan and Swansea film festivals, DARK SOULS brings slick thrills and oil spills without resorting to easy scares. 5 out of 5
Cambridge Film Festival Daily
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