Director – Steven R. Monroe
Cast – Monica Keena, David Anders, Tim Thomerson, Chris Engen, Tarah Paige
Release Year – 2006
Reviewed by John of the Dead
In my ever-long quest to uncover what I refer to as “hidden gem” horror films, I gave this little known film a chance in hope of discovering a horror film that has little but gives a lot. I went into this film fully expecting to be pleased thanks to some positive reviews I had read, but “pleased” was not how I felt when the end credits began to roll.
Left in Darkness stars Monica Keena(Freddy vs. Jason) as Celia, a young woman who decides to go out for a change for her birthday celebration. The destination for her birthday celebration: a huge frat party. Celia and her best friend Rachel(Tarah Paige; Otis, Mortuary) eventually become separated at the party, and the naïve Celia is drugged and raped by one of the partygoers. Unfortunately for Celia, her problems are just beginning. She does not react well to the rape drug and subsequently passes away on the bathroom floor. Celia is now stuck in a world that is neither Heaven nor Hell, but might as well be Hell. Horrendous creatures are out to get her, and she must rely on the word of her guardian angel if she wishes to make it out of the Hellish underworld with her soul.
For an unknown DTV low-budget film this sure has a high production value. I was impressed from the get-go by this film’s visuals and cinematography, and throughout the first act and most of the second act I though this film was going to be a winner. I am a fan of anything having to do with life after death, so my interest was there despite the fact that few films that employ the “afterlife” element(such as The Other Side) are worth watching. We conflict we get at the hands of Celia feels real, and her positive acting performance sells it beautifully. Despite my dislike for naïve girls, I could not help but feel sorry for the girl, and that says something about this film’s writing and execution on that subject.
While the storyline came with some interesting elements, I feel that from the third act and on that this film really lost its focus and turned into a lame and cliché film with a “twist”(if you can even call it that) that I saw coming at the beginning of the second act. From then on out I really had trouble finding the strength and interest go finish watching the film, but of course I could not write this review without finishing it, so I had to. In all actuality, this film’s problems started well into the second act when Celia shows just how annoying and poorly written she is in regards to the scene with her guardian angel trying to protect her. At the time I did not foresee any horrible plot changes kicking in and just figured she was supposed to come off annoying, guess I should have guessed again.
We do get some OK direction from director Steven R. Monroe, so this film is not all in the negative. He gave us some pretty cool looking creatures and his use of lighting in the “afterworld” scenes was fantastic and did a swell job setting up the proper atmosphere. Too bad he did not have a formidable script to make this film a worthwhile watch.
Overall, this is a film I had much hopes for but did not turn out to be anything special. It has much promise but unfortunately manifests into nothing that we have not seen in other films that fail just like this film does.