From the Dark full movie review - Deeply Frustrating
Well, acted, taut and thoughtful, this Irish-made Nu-Horror piece has the makings of a ground-breaking entry into a tired and cynical field.
The plot is largely told without dialogue which is a technique that should be used a lot more. The story revolves quite simply around a young Irish couple stranded and isolated as they are hunted by something hungry that rose from the peat bogs. Horror and pop-culture fans will recognize the antagonist instantly when seen in profile though in a Q&A, the director said he was only using portions of that trope despite the mimeographed physical resemblance.
Both of the main actors give instinctual and layered performances particularly given the lack of substantive dialogue. This makes perfect sense as when one is running and hiding in fear for one's life, conversation might not be foremost on your mind. Grunts, groans screams and moans are used as often as words to convey their situation though I must admit it would have been more natural for one of them to freak out at the whole illogical and unnatural nature of their predicament. Think Blair Witch Project's many uses of hysterics in the face of an unseen, unknowable foe.
Niamh Alger's turn as the can-do girl fighting for her and her boyfriend's life is a nice break from the standard male protagonist role, though in Horror, beautiful women DO seem to fare better than average in the post-Millennial world, still Algar's Sarah is a convincing and tenacious hero without the need to show us Sigourney Weaver levels of unstopability.
Gore and cheap starts are not an issue here, though one of the characters does make a decision to hurt themselves for reasons which will be apparent once seen and while the idea is sound and shows the character to be quick-witted and tough, the special fx produced a pay off that was slightly Fangoria c.1975.
The antagonist IS suitably mysterious and vague, avoiding the pitfall of the horror exposed to the light in all its tangible goriness and thus reduced to just another Saturday Matinée beastie.
The movie does suffer from pacing problems as that much time without dialogue SHOULD give you some motion to the story rather than extended breaks of the characters catching their breath or tending to cuts, leaves one feeling the the director's choice to allow the scenes to breathe organically is less patience and more self-indulgent.
Despite this, the film's great disappointment lies in its use of the camera. This is not like the aforementioned Blair Witch, wherein one gets Cops-style shaky cam on-the-run. Rather it seems to be quite infatuated by its own cleverness in creating claustrophobia even when outdoors or in large spaces, the camera is placed so close to the characters as to prevent you from seeing both sides of their face in some cases. The devotion to this sense of confusion and displacement carries through to wide-angle scenes where in many cases objects are left to intervene between viewer and subject. While the goal is clearly to leave the viewer unbalanced, the result is simply to leave one blinking and confused. Intended to be a mood-setter, the final product is instead the antithesis of film; it makes what you've seen LESS understandable and completely unrelatable. Add in the constant darkness from the title and your final product is more film strip than cinema. At no point was this author ever able to place himself into the scene and become a subject of the director's world, instead remaining in constant analysis mode which is just not that enjoyable and ultimately undoes all of the director's technique.
Watching this movie is akin to buying a car with a bad transmission. All those wonderful parts that do work are completely over-matched by the nagging and constant problem that rides shotgun on every trip.