Thursday, May 19, 2011

And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Tourist Trapped

American tourists just can't get a break. If horror buffs learned one thing from the fall of the Twin Towers, it's that writers and producers can never seem to get enough of exploiting post-9/11 xenophobia. Wherever we travel, there's always going to be a group of seemingly charming locals with dastardly plans, corrupt cops, and mysterious companions who have to earn our trust; because if horror films have taught us anything, it's that we're basically screwed when it comes to traveling abroad. Marcos Efron's And Soon the Darkness, a remake of the 1970 cult film of the same name, is no exception. His liberties with the original script thread a more commonly seen tale, but the film still works to an extent, mainly because of vivid cinematography and the eye candy that is our two leading ladies. Why, oh, why is it that only the beautiful insist on traveling alone?

Swapping out the French countryside for that of Argentina, our film finds best friends Stephanie (Amber Heard, Drive Angry 3D) and Ellie (Odette Yustman, The Uninvited), two beautiful American girls, biking through the country alone. Deciding to stay the night in a small exotic town, the two hit up a local bar where Ellie catches the eye of Chucho, a charming local who buys the girls drink after drink. Later at their hotel, when Ellie refuses Chucho's advances, he becomes a bit rough. Enter Michael (Karl Urban, Star Trek), an expatriate staying in their hotel, who diffuses the situation. The following morning, our two hungover protagonists realize they've missed the only bus out of town, so they decide to sight-see since they're stuck for another day. Finding a desolate area, the two relax lakeside (in a bikini scene that I wish never had to end), until an argument causes Stephanie to storm off, leaving Ellie alone. When Ellie doesn't return for lunch, Stephanie and Michael (who happened to be in the area) look for her, but only find her cellphone and drops of blood. With the local police not taking them seriously, Michael reveals to Stephanie that girls have gone missing lately (including his girlfriend), which leads the two to hunt for their loved ones before it's too late.

While the original version of And Soon the Darkness was more of a slow burning atmospheric thriller, this version is a bit more flashy and to the point for the modern ADD-addled audiences. There are more chases, more reveals, and more activity that occupy this film, which is a good thing if you've never seen the original or weren't a fan.  While the original is a suspenseful and tense "who-dunnit?", this one essentially gives you everything you need to know and leaves very little to mystery. This doesn't mean it's a bad film, however, if that's what you're into. But if you're an avid fan of the original, you'll probably find yourself disappointed.

One thing that everyone can agree on is the vividness of this film. The colors are sharp and the exotic countryside is captured by lush wide-lensed cinematography, particularly towards the end of the film when our characters are trekking through the rubble of an eerie ghost town. While the original film stuck to only a handful of locations, we get a wider scope of the land where our damsels find themselves distressed.

There really isn't much to say about the film that hasn't been said about other tourist-trips-gone-bad films. The acting is fine, the plot changes are "meh" in comparison to the original, and aside from cinematography and the beautiful settings, there really isn't much that will stick out after this film is finished, with the exception of Yustman adjusting her bikini bottom. But it's by no means a bad movie. It's just like some vacations. You're glad you went, but you probably won't be back anytime soon.

2.75/5 Stars

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