Out of Darkness
February 5th, 2024
MOVIE: OUT OF DARKNESS
STARRING: CHUKU MODU, KIT YOUNG, SAFIA OAKLEY-GREEN, IOLA EVANS
DIRECTED BY: ANDREW CUMMING
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
When a movie places the chips it has on a big reveal the risk is insurmountable. It’s the equivalent of going for it on fourth down to win the game. Putting all your earnings on red and hoping that wheel doesn’t come up black. Sadly, for Out of Darkness the big chance does not pay off. This is a finely crafted film, visually stunning at times, using all natural lighting, but resulting in frustrating returns. There is fear of a monster, something terrifying lurking in the woods, and when it is finally revealed, the result lands with a massive thud. Out of Darkness is a trip back to prehistoric times. We meet a group of first men and women, speaking in their native tongue and traveling to find fruitful land. When a beast of some kind begins killing all the animals, it’s not long before the humans become the hunted. Out of Darkness is a well-made survival thriller that forgets how to land the kill.
The leader of the group is Adem (Chuku Modu), a father of Geirr (Kit Young), a master at tracking, and often telling stories by the campfire. In the current moment, food is scarce, with the women and children starving, as the group begins to not believe in Adem’s leadership. When they sleep at night, they hear sounds in the woods, and something big that is rustling in the trees. When Adem finds a mutilated animal, with the carcass spread all over rocks, the group begins to believe that something is out there. It soon becomes Adem’s goal to find this beast before they all starve or else the group will lose complete confidence in him.
From a direction and aesthetic standpoint, Out of Darkness is excellent, with gorgeously authentic visuals. The cinematography from Ben Fordesman is a great highlight, while Andrew Cumming’s direction sets the tone, submerging us into the damp, murky and mysterious woods. The screenplay by Ruth Greenberg, along with the story by Cumming and Oliver Kassman has the characters speaking the Tola language, which was created for the film, capturing the native beginnings. Sadly, that dialogue is still going through a relatively predictable narrative, about Geirr finding the courage to lead, while young Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green) fights to prove that she can take charge as the elders doubt her abilities. It has the brief success of setting it up well but the payoff is where things change.
It feels wrong to judge the entirety of Out of Darkness on the reveal but it’s baked into the pacing. As each sequence of terror takes place, cranking up expectations to see what the monster looks like, we are then left watching air. Similar to films such as The Village or The Mist, those types of conflicting results can be worthy of a second viewing, and the same should be applied to Out of Darkness. But until that viewing happens- the reality is that the disappointment is hard to shake off.
That’s not to say that all of Out of Darkness should be dismissed. It’s the feature debut from Cumming and his potential should be soaring high. It fits into a strong collection of recent works that capture the indigenous spirit- Prey and Blood Quantum come to mind. It ultimately just needed the budget, potential rewrites, and the willingness to give the audience a far better ending. Out of Darkness left me out in the cold.
OUT OF DARKNESS IS IN THEATERS FRIDAY FEBRUARY 9TH, 2024
Written by: Leo Brady