The Dark (2018)

The Dark
Director: Justin P. Lange
Writer: Justin P. Lange
Cast: Nadia Alexander, Toby Nichols, Karl Markovics, Sarah Murphy-Dyson, Dan Beirne, Margarete Tiesel
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 22.9.2018

Content Note: abuse

Alex (Toby Nichols) was kidnapped by Josef (Karl Markovics) a while ago, but Josef has to make a run for it. With Alex, traumatized and blinded, in the trunk of his car, he drives off and ends up at an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. Only that the house isn’t quite as abandoned as he thought: Mina (Nadia Alexander) lives there. Mina finds Alex and since she, too, has experienced unspeakable violence, the two bond and find strength in each other.

The Dark might be a little too long and a little too thin in the story department, but I enjoyed watching it, even if I don’t agree with the story’s angle.

The film poster showing the silhouettes of two kids holding hands in the woods.

The Dark is a bit of a sluggish film, but I don’t mean this in a bad way. It moves slow and not very precisely, but in an interesting, engaging way. Despite lengthy parts, I was never bored. Given that it’s Lange’s first film, I’d say if he manages to make his next one a little sharper, he will be all set for a really good film. Meanwhile, The Dark is very promising.

I liked the dynamic between Mina and Alex; how they both cope with their respective trauma so differently and how they manage to strengthen each other. I did feel that there was still room to explore them and their relationship more deeply, but what I got, I liked.

Nadia Alexander and Toby Nichols in the film.

What I didn’t like was the way the film handles Mina’s monstrousness. Basically, what the story tells us is that she becomes a monster because of the violence she has to endure but if you just like her and treat her even the tiniest bit, all trace of the violence and her monstrousness will disappear, leaving not even the smallest scar behind. And while I agree that victims of violence can, in turn, become violent themselves and I also agree that loving, accepting, healthy relationships have a healing effect, that she goes back to her pre-trauma self that way feels like a harmful ending for survivors everywhere.

That being said, I did enjoy The Dark. It looks neat – especially Mina’s room and her drawings really caught my eye. And as I said, it’s always engaging.

Nadia Alexander in the film.

Summarizing: Not bad at all.

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