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Daniel Olmos [Celluloid 02.21.15] horror

Q: When is a J-horror not a J-horror?

A: When it’s written and directed by a spanish team including David and Alex Pastor  of    Carriers and The Last Days fame and Javier Gullon, the writer of Enemy.

I don’t have a problem with mainstream horror movies as such. Of course, as with most of the people who frequent this site, I find that my tastes are satisfied by the films that exist a little more towards the fringe, but on the whole I find that even the most formulaic of horrors can provide some thrills and chills.

I say this because Out of the Dark is one of the most derivative and predictable horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Surprisingly (and perhaps the only surprising thing about this film other than the fact that Scott Speedman and Julia Stiles are supposed to make us believe they have had a child together despite having an on screen chemistry that feels awkward at very best) is that the film isn’t the standard possession or haunted house tale, but much more along the lines of the better known Japanese horror films.

The plot of the film is faintly ludicrous in a banal sort of way as we follow Sarah and Paul Harriman and their young daughter Hannah as they relocate to a small town in Colombia from London. Ostensibly this move is so that Hannah can begin working in her father’s paper mill in the jungle, but even the slowest of viewers will see this for the thinly veiled plot device it is.

Once Settled in, bad things happen and our heroes must tackle a malevolent force intent on tearing their family apart, or something. Many of  the standard horror tropes are here but all  have been done more effectively in other films, so we are left with a feeling of deja vu and a few clumsy performances.

Mainstream horror doesn’t have to be like this. Last year's The Babadook managed to do a few new things with the formula and was well received because of it. Hammer’s return to the silver screen with The Woman In Black upped the ante with some terrific jump scares, but Out of the Dark remains a little forgettable.

It’s not all bad though, Colombia looks beautiful, the town drips with atmosphere and is beautifully shot, I should mention that there are a few scares scattered here and there too. Technically it looks and sounds great, but all the sheen in the world can’t make such a dull story shine, the problem is, that whilst not being a bad film, it’s not a good one either.

Out of the Dark hits theaters on 2/27 via Vertical Entertainment.

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