Director: Tim Brown
Starring: Dan Payne and Robin Dunne
Written by: Carrey Dickson
Adam (Robin Dunne) hasn’t been home for close to 15 years. He returns to see his estranged brother Clint (Dan Payne) and go on a weekend hunting trip. The brothers stand in the shadow of their father who had strikingly different relationships with each of them. Clint emulated his father and saw him as a great man, while Adam didn’t understand his father and saw him as cruel and disconnected.
Unaffected performances from Payne and Dunne allow for a natural and authentic relationship. It would have been easy for either of the characters to have been played with vitriol or contempt but both leads chose to play their characters from a place far more emotionally grounded. We see Clint with his family in the same rural house him and his brother grew up in. Adam's form of rebellion involves a sports car and a home in the city. Both men are using their father as a guide on how to lead their lives. One uses him as an example of what to do and the other as an example of what not to do. Adam is hanging on to a lifestyle he probably should’ve out grown in his 20’s. Hangovers are cute when your 23 but sad when you’re 43.
An intelligent screenplay from Dickson shows these differences but rarely calls them out. We instead see these men going through the motions of becoming re acclimated. We learn more about who they are by watching them interact than by being told who they are. This methodical (getting to know you slowly) style of storytelling allows for the audience to become fully invested in both characters. We see them as both flawed but decent men. We understand why they chose the paths they chose and hope for their eventual reconciliation.
Most descriptions of this film I’ve read focus on the horror elements but the relationship between these two men is the real heart of the story. The greatest compliment I can pay to any genre film is, the story would absolutely work without the horrific elements. I was completely invested in the story of Adam and Clint and what lead to their 15-year separation. While the hints of what’s to come are layered throughout the first hour of the film, I ignored them and focused on the relationship. I’m not sure if this was by design but my choice to ignore all the foreshadowing and telegraphing, assisted in being floored by the third act. I knew where the film was headed but I made a conscious choice to focus on the elements I wanted to see and ignored what the filmmaker was telling me. It’s a brilliant trick on behalf of Brown and Dickson that elevated the film above the genre trappings most films of its ilk suffer.
DEVIL IN THE DARK is a smart character driven horror film that forgoes the usual gore and jump scares to engage with the audience.
DEVIL IN THE DARK will be available on VOD on March 7th