I love everything ghost hunter related. I’m not really sure why, but I think it has something to do with my parents giving me the book The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorraine Warren when I was a kid. I was hooked, and ever since, I’ve gobbled up everything even remotely paranormal investigatory based. The subgenre is a popular one for indie filmmakers as it is easy to produce, has an established formula, and a built in audience. I was thrilled to find out that the horror mystery film, Within the Darkness, had everything a ghost hunter junkie like me was hoping for and more!
A group of novice ghost hunters set out to shoot a pilot with the intention of faking paranormal evidence in order to land a regular show in Hollywood. Unfortunately, these amateurs get more than they bargained for.
Directed by Jonathan Zuck (Meant To Be Broken 2018), Within the Darkness opens with the lead investigator and host of the show, Austin (Dave Coyne: V/H/S/2 2012), rigging up the Hewitt House with his production assistant, Jesse (Tonya Kay: Puppet Master: Axis Termination 2017), in order to have readymade evidence once the cameras roll. Lucy (Megan Cline: Joe Vampire 2012) is supposed to be an occult specialist and co-host of the group, but she honestly gets the roll just for being Austin’s girlfriend. This causes her to bump heads with Jesse, who thinks Lucy is useless and is just getting in the way. Bruce (John C. Bailey: The American West TV series) is Austin’s cousin and cameraman, and just happens to be the one who finds Megan (Shanna Forrestall: The Last Exorcism 2010), the resident medium… from a Craigslist, post no less.
When night falls, they all met at the Hewitt House to begin their pretend investigation. Their first attempt at filming goes awry as Megan the psychic begins having visions that force her to flee the house with Lucy in tow. The team regroups and decide to make a go of it the next night. They end up recording a lot more evidence… none of which has been pre-rigged by Austin.
Within the Darkness is a well-produced film that is held together tightly by an excellent cast. All of the characters are extremely likable and distinct. I enjoyed the chemistry and interaction between each of them. There were a couple of moments that made me jump, which is something that I wasn’t expecting. The pacing was another thing that made this a fun movie to watch. There were no long, drawn out or boring moments. I also enjoyed the score, which was predominantly orchestral during tense scenes, which I find always adds quality and credibility to a production.
The special effects were restrained, much as you would want in a film about a group of paranormal investigators. The effects that were prominent were quite well done. Director Jonathan Zuck really understood the “less is more” concept while making this movie.
The only gripe I have with Within the Darkness was the timeline. Austin interviews an older neighbor lady named Dora (Jill Redding: The Wire TV series). She tells a story about the original owners who died in a murder suicide when she was a young girl, although the house looks to be quite a modern structure. I do have to admit that the actual interview with Dora is pure gold! I was not expecting those words to come out of that sweet old lady’s mouth.
Within the Darkness was a really fun watch. The actors all felt familiar with each other, and their chemistry was genuine. If a movie’s cast isn’t clicking, I just can’t get into a film. This was not an issue here. Right from the beginning, I was onboard. They stick pretty close to the paranormal investigator jargon while staying believable that it is their first attempt at putting together a TV series pilot. If you enjoy the ghost hunting subgenre, you will definitely want to add this one to your collection. Oh, and watch out for the twist ending. I guarantee that you will never see it coming!