DECEMBER 16, 2010
I see a lot of horror movies that are just combined from two others, which can be annoying at times, but every now and then there’s a combo that’s truly inspired, making for a pretty interesting flick. Such is the case with Dark Nature, which quite inexplicably combines Bay Of Blood (aka Twitch Of The Death Nerve) and... Long Weekend? Yup, the killer in this movie is a regular dude, but part of his thing is that he’s in tune with nature and hates those who trespass on or in some way ‘ruin’ it.
The Bay of Blood thing stems from the fact that there are multiple killers in the movie, which made it a bit confusing at first. The film opens with a woman being bludgeoned by her husband, but then HE gets killed a few minutes later. According to the commentary, some of the kill scenes were re-edited because it made the identity of the killer too obvious, which is why they almost feel supernaturally based at times, but once its clear what’s going on things run a lot smoother. The end of the film is also taken almost directly from Bay, albeit with a different motivation.
Slasher fans might be disappointed to discover that most of the kills are off-screen (the director says they got a “15” in the UK, which is sort of like the PG-15 rating that we really should have over here), but I didn’t mind too much. I’ve seen Hatchet II a few times in the past couple months; I’ve gotten my fill of seeing the different ways folks can be hacked up. The only drawback is that it leaves certain things unclear; there’s a scene near the end where a would-be hero ends up inside a bear trap, and it would have been nice to see how the killer managed to get him into it.
Another thing I liked was that the phones all worked! Even though it’s an isolated spot, and thus it could easily have been believed that they would have no service, they seemingly have no problem making calls. However, the irony is that they are so isolated, help cannot come in a reasonable time; the police are called at one point but everyone is dead before they get there (they estimate an arrival in “about an hour”).
One thing I could definitely do without (besides yet another sullen teen girl character who hates her mum – do any horror movie teenaged girls like their mothers anymore?) is the pointless ‘premonition’ that the mother of the family has early on, as they are driving there. It’s not a very long film, and that sort of thing just reeks of padding to me, especially when it a. doesn’t help and b. doesn’t have any explanation. It’s not as egregious as say, Jeepers Creepers 2, but it’s still a giant red mark on an otherwise above average modern slasher.
The Blu-ray comes with a standard set of bonus features, including the aforementioned commentary, by the director and writer, who randomly leaves with 10 minutes to go and is replaced by the 1st AD, which sucks because I was hoping for his insight on the ending. They aren’t afraid to point out their influences (including Argento and yes, Long Weekend) but Bay Of Blood is never mentioned – however if the writer was still around during the most obvious “homage” perhaps it would have been. It’s a good track though, mixing story insight with technical anecdotes. It’s certainly better than the “making of”, which starts with the director describing the ending before just showing 20 minutes’ worth of behind the scenes footage showing the rehearsal and blocking for a few of the scare scenes. Then there’s a few minutes of an interview with the lead actress (the full interview is also available as a separate extra), and finally a bunch of production stills. Pretty worthless, especially if you, like me, already watched the interview with the actress.
Ignore the horrible trailer (just an edited down version of the film’s opening scene?) and skip right to “The Last Noel”, which is a short film from the director in which Santa finds himself in the home of a non-believing child who nonetheless knows the entire history of the real Santa Claus. It’s pretty funny and quite dark, just the way I like my short films. It also tickled me, because right before I watched the film my wife had some Christmas music on and “The First Noel” was one of the tracks, which got me wondering if there was ever a 2nd or 3rd Noel. So that was a nice bit of serendipity.
One final note – the disc comes from Troma, which is pretty random as it’s the most un-Troma horror movie I’ve ever seen. But even more of a surprise was how good the Blu-ray transfer was. The film was shot digitally, so there are the inherent limitations, but even so it’s a beautiful looking disc – future indie filmmakers should seek out whoever did the transfer/mastering and use them as well. I’ve seen a lot of Blu-rays that barely look different than their standard-def counterparts, but this was borderline reference level good. At least, on the film – the extras were all over the place both in quality and in formatting – some were standard def, others high def, some at the wrong aspect ratio... THAT’S what I expect from Troma!
What say you?