The sun has gone out. Life has become eternal night, humans operating in near total darkness to avoid creatures that are attracted to light. Food is growing scarce, life seems to continue as “normal”, but with an increasing sense of impending doom (Sound familiar?). River Kern (Taylor Rhoades) is trying to keep the faith, at home with his wife Emma (Danielle Rhoades) and their baby, Mya (Mya Rhoades). The tensions rise continually, but the tension of an unexpected invader in their home isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as the tension between Emma and River.
Christmas comes and goes, with a sick River making an ass of himself by oversleeping and missing Christmas with his family. In spite of his ailing health, fueled largely by the freezing cold and lack of good food, he resolves to make New Year’s Eve special. He finds a bottle of wine and flowers and tries to make time just for himself and Emma, including making reservations at one of the few open restaurants around. She stops him in his tracks, reminding him (for, judging by her frustration, the umpteenth time) that she has to work. Frustrated and humiliated, River sits down to watch cartoons with the baby. However, an emergency alert and sudden police activity turns their quiet night at home into a nightmare.
Emma never comes home from work that night. There are more intruders, not the least of which is one of these “creatures”, which River locks up in the basement to observe. Completely isolated, and with no word about his missing wife, River has to face himself, his fate, and what it looks like to be a father all alone.
CREATURE IN THE DARK is another remarkable case of what I like to call, “the little crew that could”. Everyone in the cast was also a member of the crew in one way or another – Danielle Rhoades is the makeup department head, Taylor Rhoades assistant directed, and so on. In researching the film, it looks like at least part of it was funded via Indiegogo, although they never reached their goal. That being said, for the most part CREATURE IN THE DARK has a surprisingly big budget feel. Having a real life family play the featured family of this story is a choice that works for and against the overall success of the film. Mya, the baby, is perfection – largely because she’s getting to interact with her real life daddy. However Danielle’s performance has that tangible feel of “let’s have the crew act”, in spite of sweet loving chemistry between Taylor and Danielle. CREATURE IN THE DARK is a character study for Taylor Rhoades, given that the majority of the film he’s either alone or only interacting with a baby. His performance feels almost theatrical – and I mean that in the kindest and most complimentary way. His power in stillness is tangible, and compelling.
The atmosphere of CREATURE IN THE DARK is the super successful selling point. Reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing, and many of the sleeper “isolation” themed hits of the last decade or so, CREATURE IN THE DARK pulls just enough source material from movies we love and are familiar with, and has enough individuality to stay interesting. Sadly, though, in spite of the fairly simple concept, I found myself struggling to follow exactly what was happening. The timeline was a tiny bit confusing, with some continuity errors that stopped me in my tracks – enough that I occasionally wondered if I was looking at the same actor/character as I was in the scene before. Script days are inconsistent, and in an isolation and apocalypse style film those changes are excruciating. As River seemingly gets sicker, he also has moments of appearing totally normal and healthy, in a way that actually made me wonder if we were doing some time-hopping.
CREATURE IN THE DARK gets an A for effort and commitment. If only the final product merited the same grade.
|Creature in the Dark|
|Runtime:||1 Hr. 78 Mins.|