And Soon the Darkness

Based on the 1970 British film of the same name, And Soon the Darkness details the chaos that ensues after two friends (Amber Heard’s Stephanie and Odette Yustman’s Ellie) are separated while on an Argentinean vacation – with the film subsequently following Stephanie’s ongoing efforts at locating Ellie before night falls (after which point, a local helpfully informs her, Ellie will probably disappear forever). Director Marcos Efron, working from a script cowritten with Jennifer Derwingson, has infused And Soon the Darkness with a deliberate pace that does, at the outset, prevent the viewer from wholeheartedly embracing the material, and there’s little doubt one’s interest is initially held by the compelling performances and sporadic emphasis on suspenseful interludes (ie the stretch leading up to Ellie’s abduction). The film’s problems are exacerbated by Efron and Derwingson’s reliance on elements of a decidedly routine nature, as the narrative generally unfolds in a manner that will seem less-than-surprising for fans of the horror genre (ie Stephanie attempts to elicit help from an indifferent police officer). It’s just as clear, however, that the movie does improve once Stephanie accepts help from a mysterious fellow American (Karl Urban’s Michael), with their perilous search, which leads to an impressively stark ghost town, ultimately carrying the proceedings through to its tense finale. The end result is a watchable thriller that’s never quite able to transcend the familiarity of its premise, though it’s worth noting that the movie often fares a whole lot better than its similarly-themed brethren (ie Turistas).

**1/2 out of ****

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