Blood In The Snow Film Festival 2017: ‘Darken’ – Movie Review

As soon as I saw the synopsis for Darken, I knew this was the type of film I would like. I love films that take me to new worlds, especially ones that are just a hair removed from our own. I decided to go in blind and not watch the trailer, wanting to know as little as possible going in. Did Darken thrill me or did it miss the mark?

Darken is the latest film from Audrey Cummings (Tormented 2014) from a script written by RJ Lackie. The film stars Bea Santos (Darker Than Night 2017), Natasha Negovanlis (The Carmilla Movie 2017), Rob Archer (Lost Girl TV Series), Ari Millen (Orphan Black TV Series), Christine Horne (Lost Girl TV Series), Paul Amos (Lost Girl TV Series), Zoe Belkin (Carrie 2013), Olunike Adeliyi (Chaos Walking 2019), Jon McLaren (House at the End of the Street 2012), Dmitry Chepovetsky (Dead Silence 2007), Zehra Leverman (XMen: Apocalypse 2016), and Angelica Lisk Hann.

Official Synopsis:

Darken is set in a bizarre, mysterious, and violent unknown world with danger and death around every corner. After a young woman named Eve is accosted by a dying warrior in the middle of the street, a bizarre incantation propels her into the realm of Darken – a violent prison-like world of labyrinthine rooms, interconnected with no apparent rhyme or reason and no way of escape. As she fights for survival within this brutal place, she finds allies who are rebelling against the rule of a self-appointed religious despot who demands allegiance to an all-powerful god called Mother Darken. Eve and her allies must fight with everything they have if they are to have any hope of surviving the horrors Darken has in store for them

I went into Darken with the only slightest hint of what to expect. I’m happy to report that it delivered on those expectations and more. The film takes place in a world not that far off from our own, in a building where the remnants of society reside. In this maze-like structure with no exit, two factions are at war. On one side lies Clarity, the priestess of the Goddess known as Mother Darken, along with her followers, and on the other, all those who oppose her rule.

Clarity claims that there is nothing but death outside the door of their world, which brings more scrutiny to her rule when someone she exiled is able to transport someone from our world to the world of Darken. The more people questioning her rule, the more Clarity starts to lose her cool, deciding it’s time to wipe out everyone who has questioned her for good. Will Eve and her allies escape with their lives?

I really liked that the world of Darken felt like it could be our world in the future, looking like an old abandoned building. I enjoyed the characters here, even the villains. Everyone has their own motivations for their actions. Eve just wants to survive and make it home. Kali wants to avenge those she lost. Martin wants to serve his god and do right by people, while being hindered at every turn by Clarity, who seeks absolute power.

The actors did a great job with their respective characters. Bea Santos was wonderful as Eve, a nurse transported to another world. Eve is a kind soul and hates losing patients, a trait that is carried over when she loses those around her in Darken as well. She decides to take charge and becomes a well rounded and likable heroine. Ari Millen, whom I loved on Orphan Black, plays Martin (Clarity’s second in command) and alternates at the drop of a hat from eccentric to angry to conflicted to sniveling, while ultimately coming off more sympathetic than the character deserved (a testament to Ari’s amazing acting abilities).

Rob Archer’s character, Bard, is the muscle of Clarity’s group and was imposing and kind of terrifying. I wouldn’t want to be within grabbing distance of his character. Olunike Adeliyi played Kali, who started out as a hard ass. Olunike gives a performance that shows the character’s depth and weight as the film goes along. Zoe Belkin played the role of Mercy, by far my favorite character in the movie, and I absolutely fell in love with her. Zoe is absolutely gorgeous and delivers a fantastic performance without any dialogue. Mercy is the type of character who sees the best in people and it’s hard not to instantly love her for it. Christine Horne had a difficult part to play as Clarity, the villain of the piece. Horne does a magnificent job as a character who is far from one note. Clarity is person who wants the love and admiration of those around her, which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. What is a bad thing is the fact that she will kill anyone who questions her in the slightest, which only gets worse as the film goes on.

I loved the way the film wrapped up, which I really can’t talk about much due to spoilers, but I suspect a sequel is on the way. Here are a few things I would like to see in a sequel: More of an explanation on how the doorway works, more background on the character’s pasts (especially Clarity, as little is revealed about her in the film), exploration on the origin of Mother Darken (who is she, where did she come from, and what are her abilities) and more locations (Darken takes place in one location. I would love to see the sequel branch out to more places, becoming part sci-fi chase film and part character study).

Final Thoughts

Darken is an engaging and affecting indie sci-fi fantasy. The film overcomes its low budget due to the stellar performances of a talented cast and heart and soul permeates every frame. If you like indie films, sci-fi fantasies, and films that aren’t afraid to make you feel something, check out Darken once it’s released to the public.

 

About Charlie Cargile

Central Illinois based film journalist. Lover of cinema of all varieties but in love with films with an independent spirit. Elder Emo. Cat Dad. Metalhead.

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