A juvenile in jeopardy, impressively dark and gloomy production values and a leading lady who delivers bug-eyed alarm with the best of them give “Dark Light” a fighting chance.
It’s a creature feature with a silly but scary enough “creature concept (by Aaron Sims) and a few good jolts trapped in a dumb and desultory plot. I can’t say it wholly comes off, but it’s a far piece from a total write-off. Genre fans could dig it.
A single set dominates it — a spooky old frame farmhouse in Mississippi, cloaked in fog and gloom, the place where post-“nervous breakdown” Annie (Jessica Madsen) grew up, the place that her mother was dragged from on her way to a mental hospital.
But when your husband’s cheating on you, where else do you take your little girl (Opal Littleton) to start over? That creepy unused elevator? That moved granny up and down the stairs. That scratching in the wall? Yeah, me too.
Those too-bright lights out in the cornfield? Teenagers with halogen spotlights? Nah.
The kid is being pursued by something which only an Internet visit can (insanely) explain. There’s a lot of lights and scratching, biped figures only glimpsed in a “Signs” sense, an “expert (Gerald Tyler)” who thinks he knows what’s going on and a lot of blood and mayhem and shotgun shooting before that inevitable confrontation.
“Annie, put the gun down.”
“Sheriff, you don’t understand.”
They never do. Never ever.
It’s a humorless fright fest with corpses, mildly-impressive effects, a Big League string orchestra score and sturdy work by Madsen (“Leatherface”) in the lead.
She doesn’t give us panic, just fright. The weeping moments don’t sell the picture. And not giving anybody anything cool or clever quippish to say robs her performance, and those in support, of any “pop” the picture might have had.
But as creature features go, any given weekend we can say “Hey, I’ve seen worse.”
MPAA Rating: Unrated, bloody violence
Credits: Written and directed by Padraig Reynolds. A Zee Studios/Netflix release.
Running time: 1:28