Monday, October 03, 2016

30 Days of Nightmares #3: DARK WAS THE NIGHT (2014)

The Story: A small town in the northeastern logging region is haunted by a legendary Native American monster. 

Expectations: This one sounded a lot like John Frankenheimer’s PROPHECY (1979).  I decided to watch it anyway. 

The film is directed by Jack Heller, who produced BONE TOMAHAWK, which I loved.  Heller also directed a little film called ENTER NOWHERE, which had a really intriguing premise but (as advertised) went nowhere.  The leads are Kevin Durand, a reliable character actor, and Lukas Haas, who I remember as the little kid in LADY IN WHITE.  That film that made a big impression on me during one of my very first Halloween night movie marathons. 

Reaction: Not much.

I don’t want to be too hard on this movie, because I honestly didn’t hate it.  I just didn’t like it.  It’s an old-fashioned monster movie that trots out the usual clichés: a prologue setting up the threat (which we don’t actually see), a world-weary hero in need of redemption, speculations about a local legend, a third-act siege scenario, a “twist” ending, etc.  It’s Modern Horror 101.  Which is fine.  I recognize that horror movies are usually full of clichés…. but when you’ve seen as many horror movies as I have, clichés need to be delivered with a certain amount of panache, or I just can’t get invested.  DARK WAS THE NIGHT was too predictable to be scary, and too dour / lethargic to be fun.  The digital monster at the end didn’t help.  It made me wish I had watched PUMPKINHEAD instead.

Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: According to one source, the movie was based on an actual urban legend—which sounds scarier than the movie. Actually, to be fair, the scene with the long trail of hoofprints was pretty compelling.  


  1. This is one of those films to me where the cliches don't bother me. I love the 80's style throw back feel and it's so well acted to me I guess I was more invested in the actors journey than my own. It was very predictable and a little on the slow burn side so i can see where you are coming from. Nothing wrong with another Pumpkinhead rewatch!

    1. I really tried not to be too harsh on this one... but I just kept finding myself doing other things while I was watching it. That's never a good sign. I don't blame the actors -- all the performances were good. I just wish the characters hadn't been so one-note. Honestly, I think the reason I was especially disappointed was because there was so much potential....