Out of Darkness

Out of Darkness
Out of Darkness
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“They have been working together since the Stone Age,” is a common saying when describing how long one has been doing something. For example, this week sees the release of a film that takes place during that very era — where early humans band together to protect themselves from some sort of evil. In a world where “Parasite” wins Best Picture, one should not be deterred if they have to rely on subtitles for their next cinematic experience. The characters in “Out of Darkness” speak a foreign dialect that sounds like a combination of multiple known languages, but don’t let the language barrier fool you — Andrew Cumming’s new film is rich with modern-day themes about humanity’s place in this world.

But don’t let the promotional trailer fool you — this isn’t some conventional thriller about our ancestors fighting off evil spirits while out seeking new land. Yes, there is some of that, particularly in the first act; however, “Out of Darkness” becomes much more than what we’re presented with initially. Yes, we are in the Stone Age, but things start off with quite literally a bang — even creating somewhat of a fourth-wall-breaking effect with its opening bonfire sequence (the first line we hear is: “Tell me a story,” followed by debate among the small community as to what constitutes a worthy tale to recite over the flames of a roaring campfire).

On that note alone and within seconds into the film itself, it becomes quite clear that director Andrew Cumming (in his feature directorial debut) is offering us an extremely visually arresting project — and I’m not just talking about its slightly desaturated color palette evoking eerie vibes galore. No, I’m also referring to its surprisingly mobile camera (whip pans that would make Scorsese and PTA proud included), as well as its haunting musical score.

All these neat little components really come alive once Out of Darkness’ plot kicks into high gear. You see, soon-to-be father Adem (Chuku Modu) leads this gang — which consists of his very pregnant companion Ave (Iola Evans) — in search for more from the world. However, there seems to be a clash of leaders here as Adem butts heads with the more cautious Geirr (Kit Young) and the fiery Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green; a star-making role for an actress who clearly has quite the bright future ahead of her). There’s also the more senior Odal (Arno Lüning) who appears to be stuck in his old ways despite all the change happening around him.

So what exactly happens? What’s the big deal? Well, one of them gets taken — presumably by some supernatural barbaric entity that sends the rest of them out on their manhunt-of-all-manhunts. It doesn’t really go well though, especially once night descends upon their endeavor. “We’ve been trapped,” one of them tells us, as eerie noises surround them from unseen creatures. Humans perhaps?

I can’t give away too much, but Out of Darkness really knows how to be a horror movie. Another person gets taken and attacked; you might want to look away when they find him because it’s pretty gnarly — though I’m not sure all the working makeup artists in Hollywood could have done any better. Later, another terrible thing happens when the food runs out and they’re in this new mountainous terrain they’ve never been in before.

So yes, as far as genre goes, Out of Darkness is historical fiction… with horror elements… that turns into a psychological thriller by the end. There are even some moments of science fiction when the sky turns green one of the nights the remaining community members are camping out and thinking about their probably doomed future on this planet. They can’t go on because of something they don’t see. Odal wants to use one of their injured’s blood to attract the beast. Beyah goes on a warpath, and we get some Prey vibes here — Hulu’s hit film that was a prequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator.

By the end, when more identities are revealed, you’ll be asking yourself “Who is the real monster?” Yes, it’s set in the Stone Age but we can still see ourselves in these barbaric yet humane characters. At first it might seem hard for an average viewer to connect with people on screen like this. But stick with it — this is truly a post-modern Stone Age film that will be talked about by cinema buffs for years.

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