Director – Paul Fox
Cast – Kate Greenhouse, Aidan Devine, Gordon Currie, Iris Graham, Dov Tiefenbach, David Calderisi
Release Year – 2005
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I remember reading some good reviews on The Dark Hours years ago but honestly forgot about the film a short while after. After coming across it yesterday I decided to right my wrong and finally give this psychological horror flick a watch and was unsurprised with how much I enjoyed this experience. Horror films with psychological elements always appeal to me, especially when they not only involve nutcases but the psychologists who treat them, and we are given a sweet story with very positive execution from a writer/director combo with no other feature film titles to their names.
Dr. Samantha Goodman, a psychologist, decides to take a break from the stresses of life and spend a few days at a cabin with her husband and sister in order to explain to them the source of her troubles. However, soon after arriving and exposing her problem to them a stranger knocks on the door of this isolated cabin, and after deciding to let him in Samantha learns she has made the mistake of a lifetime, a mistake that brings forth truths she never saw coming.
I love it when a “simple” film gives me much more than I expected, and The Dark Hours seems to have gained quite a buzz following due to just that. We are immediately thrown into the somber life that Samantha lives in – constantly bombarded by serial-killer patient Harlan Pyne, and suffering from a terminal illness in the form of a brain tumor that has recently doubled in size. Setting the film in a very isolated cabin surrounded by miles of snow was a great idea, especially when they hear a knock on the door. It is from then on out that the tension begins to rise and the horror kicks in, and things only become even more dire for Dr. Goodman & co. when none other than Harlan Pyne enters the cabin and subjects them to cruel “tests” as retaliation for the grueling tests he was subjected to under Dr. Goodman’s care. Writer Will Zmack gave us one hell of a grueling story thanks to the tests our protagonists were put through, and the highly enjoyable character of Harlan Pyne added to the brutality himself on occasion. Zmack’s story is one that I did not expect from a man whose only film credit is for this film, especially when you consider just how well-written this piece is regarding the constant shocking developments. The flick starts slow, and then burns and burns and burns, adding numerous developments you never see coming which all result in a climax that I never saw coming – which makes for a damn good and shocking film experience.
Director Paul Fox did a swell job executing this piece, giving us great atmosphere that provided for plenty of good horror and tension. I mentioned earlier that setting the film in an isolated cabin surrounded by miles of snow was a sweet idea, and Fox took full advantage of this by giving us great sets and dark lighting that held my interest throughout. We get good performances from all involved, especially from Aidan Devine (Don’t Say A Word) as Harlan Pyne as he expertly sold this disturbing and charismatic character to full effect. Fox’s execution of the horror was fantastic, giving us full-frontal execution at times and inferred horror at other times, each of which resulted in gut-wrenching material sure to leave good shock in the viewers of this under-appreciated horror film that went completely under the radar back in 2005.
Overall, The Dark Hours is a great horror experience that proves to be one of the most under-appreciated of recent day due to the lack of exposure this film has received. The storyline is a great one that constantly develops and throws us for a loop during its intense final sequence, and along with Paul Fox’s great direction we are given damn good horror that results in a pretty hard-to-watch film at times and one that you are sure to enjoy.