Here’s a twisty-tense thriller that deserves more attention. I mentioned my admiration for 2005’s Canadian psychological thriller THE DARK HOURS a while back in our SNOWBOUND HORROR post. Now, I am happy to tell you that the film is available on Netflix Streaming. To make sure that this flick did not appear larger in my rear view mirror than it actually was, I recently gave it a second gander and found myself just as taken with it as I was before. The amazing thing is that THE DARK HOURS takes on several story elements that I am usually in no mood for and somehow makes me enjoy it just the same. Do I want to see a home invasion flick where people are made to crawl around and grovel while the attacker acts like a morally superior smarmy know it all? No, I hate movies like that! I myself would rather be killed than lectured by a psychopath. Still, somehow against odds, THE DARK HOURS works for me.
KATE GREENHOUSE stars as cool as a cucumber popsicle Dr. Samantha Goodman. If you think the glare she delivers her patients is frigid, check out how she robotically scans an X-ray of her very own brain tumor. (GREENHOUSE deserves big credit for remaining likable while aloof.) When her boss suggests she needs to chillax before she splits at the seams, she heads out for a weekend at her secluded cabin. Once there she finds her caught-off-guard husband and younger sister acting post-screw shady… or is she just being paranoid? A game of Operation does much to lighten the mood but soon the trio are unhappy to learn that they have uninvited houseguests in the form of one of Sam’s sadistic ex-patients (piercing AIDAN DEVINE) and his creepy tag along disciple (JASON X’s DOV TIEFENBACH.) Terrible things happen. So much so that I want to turn the movie off but I can’t. I’m not a fan of involving pets in home invasion festivities. It bums me out.
It ain’t what you do though, it’s the way that you do it and THE DARK HOURS is never nasty for empty shock value alone. The set up may feel familiar but the theatrical way it’s presented is impressively layered. Miniscule details are ten months pregnant with meaning and the coded dialogue weaves together a persuasive anxious mood. The cabin itself becomes a map of Sam’s own troubled mind with mice scratching around in the attic and a fruit cellar built for hiding and denial. Eventually the surfaces of things are scratched away and we are made to realize that not only are several characters misrepresenting themselves but also, thanks to Sam’s scrambled viewpoint, nothing may be what it seems. I know what you’re thinking. I’m kind of over the “what is reality?” crutch casually kicked around in films these days too, but THE DARK HOURS is so intricate with its tinkering of appearances that it reminds me how effective the concept can be when handled with care.
THE DARK HOURS may be too unnerving to be called “fun” but if you are down for something with a toasty fireside parlor game atmosphere and you can appreciate a more adult approach to horror this is worth your time. It has all the right screws loose and it actually earns the right to lie to you.