JANUARY 23, 2012
Whatever the complete opposite of surprised is, that’s what I was when I discovered that A Darker Reality had been sitting on the shelf for a while. An ugly, dull, poorly constructed film that more than once reminded me of gems like Chain Letter and Curse Of The Zodiac, I only wonder why they ever bothered releasing it at all, now? Even at the time it was produced (in 2008) the torture genre was bottoming out, and none of the actors involved have made it big since – who at Phase 4 thought the time was finally right for this junk?
If there was anything remotely worth appreciating about this thing (besides a few decent practical FX), it’s that they split the time evenly between the killer (Daniel Baldwin), his would-be victims (a bunch of annoying girls, many of whom are possibly not actually actresses!), and the cops tasked with finding him. This of course makes the movie more of a mess, but since everyone is either an idiot or hateful, that means the viewer is never stuck with one of them for too long at a time. Suffer through a few minutes of the victims shrieking and telling each other to shut up, and you’re rewarded with the most laughably inept police investigation subplot in movie history!
Let’s talk about them. Despite a victim toll nearing 100, it seems only two cops are assigned to this case: a Michael Biehn-ish detective and a mega-hot forensic psychologist who almost exclusively wears workout clothes. Her character also only works from home, a silly character trait that I suspect was added to allow them to film all of her scenes quickly (the only other place we see her is at the hospital). Their investigation amounts to little more than going through files and talking to either an escaped victim of “The Ghost” and a guy that’s in jail for killing some children, and yet they’re able to determine his location (“Pico and Olympic” – a non-existent intersection, for the record) fairly quickly. You’d think a guy who killed even a tenth as many people would have been caught by now if this was all it took.
The movie also swipes from Silence of the Lambs, Seven, Saw… all movies you’d rather be watching, of course. Baldwin’s voice is sadly almost indistinguishable from his brother Alec, so his attempts at sounding scary (read: swearing a lot) just remind me of when ol’ Al left voicemails for his daughter calling her a selfish little pig. And when one of your sadistic serial killer’s first big scenes is of him getting off via auto-erotic asphyxiation, it’s a bit hard to take him seriously, let alone be scared of him. I just kept wondering if the ghost of Keith Carradine would appear and warn him to stop. So when the movie isn’t ripping off better movies it’s merely reminding me of a variety of TMZ articles, basically.
Honestly I’d go on but the movie has already passed out of my memory bank. The only thing I distinctly remember is the awful ending, which is either setting up a sequel or is just the result of this production not having the money to finish it (it’s also ripping off a scene from Eye See You, for the record). Anyway, it’s not worth the effort trying to recall anything else.
The DVD offers a few deleted/extended scenes, mostly character bits with our hero cops. It’s nothing that could have helped the film – knowing more about their characters' back-stories wouldn’t have helped the fact that their investigation seemed less authentic than a few kids playing cops and robbers in their backyard. But that’s it for extras, and thus there is no mention of the fact that this is a pseudo remake of an experimental film from 2006 that is simply called Dark Reality (this was originally called Dark Reality 2). From what I can understand even its own filmmakers hate that one; curious what they have to say here. I PRAY that this is an actual improvement, but I can guarantee I will never bother to find out for sure.
What say you?