June 25, 2012

The Dark Hours (2005)

"Dr. Samantha Goodman, an attractive psychiatrist in her thirties, joins her husband and sister for a weekend at a winter cottage when an unexpected guest arrives. Harlan Pyne, a violent sexual offender, is convinced that Samantha conducted unethical experiments on him while she was his doctor."

How I missed "The Dark Hours" when it first came out is a complete mystery to me, unless, of course, it never got distributed at that time in the UK. Mind you, it's quite possible that I saw the DVD sitting on the shelves in Blockbuster, and because of the artwork with the bloody axe on it, I dismissed it as yet another one of those handycam slashers which were even drifting into Britain like the slew of shit that they were and still are.

Nobody ever mentioned "The Dark Hours" on the message boards that I used to waste my time on, and it obviously wasn't getting any promotion from the right people. I only discovered this movie by taking a chance on it as a $2 DVD purchase from the pawn shop.

It's also quite possible that nobody liked "The Dark Hours" because, like all low-budget Canadian movies, it copied everything else which was popular in the horror genre while not adding a whole lot of its own. If you listen to the director's commentary, Paul Fox is proud to have taken so many ideas from other directors and very well known horror movies.

Although most horror geeks find a lot of amusement in these homages, there are many other reviewers who just notice the ripoffs. As much as I thoroughly enjoyed "The Dark Hours", I felt that I'd seen it all before, and I had. Not only were there a couple of similarities to "Funny Games", but not to put too fine a point on it, we've had so many movies with a similar twist ending over the years that "The Dark Hours" is somewhat predictable. If I only mention the names of two previous movies from 2003, "Identity" and "High Tension", I'm sure that you can work out the spoilers for yourself.

Where this is actually better than all those other movies is, of course, that it has phenomenal acting and a more cerebral script. It also looks and sounds like it had a much bigger budget. According to the IMDb, the budget was 500,000 Canadian dollars, but I'm sure that the director said it was only $50,000 on the commentary. He also explained how they achieved such great sets with the minimal resources available.

While not very gory, there are a couple of scenes which I can imagine that the truly timid would not want to watch. The effects are pretty good, and there is a lot more blood shed than I thought there would be. Dog lovers, in particular, will definitely not enjoy this film.

The lighting, camerawork and editing are really exceptional. I also didn't spot any continuity errors (apart from a mistaken one which was because I didn't quite get what was going on at the time), and I was very impressed by the overall production values. This is high-end Canadian stuff and not just another oddly paced, off-beat, and slightly out-of-sync product.

With a cast of mostly TV actors, some of whom are more famous than others (although probably a lot more so in Canada), there's nothing too unusual here. Where "The Dark Hours" ups its game beyond just settling for being good enough, however, is in the performances from everyone involved. Kate Greenhouse acts her heart out (not literally but nearly) and shows quite a range. Aidan Devine also really stands out as a psychopath who grows increasingly more likeable.

I even liked Iris Graham (who also played one of Emily's sisters in "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"). She's really hot when she isn't crying, and sometimes even when she is. I wish I could find a better picture of her, but I don't want to spoil her sexy scenes for you with a screencap.

Five days ago, Mister Exploit left me a comment, "Dr Blood you are going to love The Dark Hours if you are anything like me." Well, Mr Exploit, I've seen it now and can safely report that I did and I must be.

With this being a more adult and talky thriller than any of those lowbrow, teenage, slasher movies which there are far too many of, there really isn't anything for me to complain about at all. If I had only rented "The Dark Hours", I'd definitely be looking for a copy to buy right now.

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