'Out of the Dark': Film Review

Out of the Dark Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Participant Media

Out of the Dark Still - H 2015

Even the title is forgettable

A family finds itself in peril after moving to a remote village in South America in this supernatural thriller

Here's a helpful bit of advice: If you have the opportunity to move with your family to a remote village in South America and move into a spooky old house that was once a medical clinic, say no.

If course, if people behaved reasonably there would be very few horror movies made. So that's exactly what young couple Sarah (Julia Stiles) and Paul (Scott Speedman), along with their adorable young daughter Hannah (Pixie Davies), do in Spanish director Lluis Quilez's feature debut, Out of the Dark.

Sarah is take a job at her father Jordan's (Stephen Rea) paper manufacturing company, while Paul, a children's book illustrator, will work from home. So far, so good, at least until ominous looking, masked children begin making mysterious appearances. Could they have something to do with the Festival of the Saint's Children, the annual commemoration of events 500 years earlier when the village's children were burned alive by the conquistadors? Or do they have a more recent provenance?

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The by-then-numbers thriller features the usual genre tropes, with a particular emphasis on placing its youngest main character in constant jeopardy. Poor Hannah gets trapped in a dumbwaiter shaft, suffers a horrible skin rash and is eventually spirited away into the jungle by the feral children.

Director Quilez manages to invest some visual stylishness into the proceedings, aided immeasurably by the hauntingly atmospheric Colombian locations. And screenwriters Javier Gullon, David Pastor and Alex Pastor at least had the ambition to throw some social issues into the formulaic mix, with the storyline eventually revolving around corporate malfeasance.

But for most of its running time the film is sluggishly paced and hopelessly dull, with Stiles and Speedman unable to bring much life into their beleaguered characters. The veteran Rea fares better, especially when his patriarchal figure turns out to be rather more complicated than he initially seems, but it's nonetheless frustrating to see this superb actor in such B-movie level material.

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From its generic title to its familiar child in distress storyline to its hackneyed depiction of things going bump in the night, Out of the Dark is thoroughly forgettable. But at least everyone involved got a nice trip out of it.  

Production: Apache Entertainment, Dynamo, Participant Media
Cast: Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Stephen Rea, Pixie Davies, Vanessa Tamayo
Director: Lluis Quilez
Screenwriters: Javier Gullon, David Pastor, Alex Pastor
Producers: Belen Atienza, Andrew Calderon, Cristian Conti, Enrique Lopez Lavigne
Executive producers: Belen Atienza, Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll, Nick Spicer
Director of photography: Isaac Vila
Production designer: Inigo Navarro
Editor: Bernat Vilaplana
Costume designer: Bina Diagler
Composer: Fernando Velazquez
Casting: Ana Isabel Velazquez

Rated R, 92 min.