Review: “Devil in the Dark”

Originally filmed under the name The Plateau, Tim Brown’s Devil in the Dark more than lives up to either title. From writer Carey Dickson’s script, the movie was filmed in the wilds of British Columbia, and it seems like the two brothers at the heart of the story are in the middle of nowhere.

That sense of isolation really brings to focus the story of older brother Clint (Dan Payne) going on a hunting trip with his younger brother, Adam (Robin Dunne). There’s a sense that the woods into which the two are heading have some strange history and story behind them, but details are sketchy. We know from the opening prologue that Adam was lost in them when he was young which sets the scene for the rest of the story.

There’s a strong amount of flashback and exposition in the film’s first half when Adam returns to the town where he grew up, for the first time in 15 years. He meets up with his older brother, whose children and wife he’s never met. The two are obviously terribly estranged, and as Devil in the Dark progresses, we see that Adam and Clint never really got along, and the death of their father only served to further isolate the two.

Once Adam and Clint get into the woods, it’s just the two of them alone — or so we’re left to think. There are mysterious noises in the woods, and very few deer to be found. There is, however, a surfeit of entirely too creepy ravens. And, as is usual for a picture such as this, Devil in the Dark brings a creepy, mysterious location in the middle of nowhere, as well as half-glimpsed beings in the dark of night.

Devil in the Dark succeeds on the strength of its two leads, who demonstrate a sort of brotherly rapport that aids in bringing the two characters to life. As Clint and Adam, Payne and Dunne do seem to be two brothers awkwardly trying to reconnect or considering the fact that they’ve never gotten along ever, connect for the first time.

Brown’s film is a slow burn at the start, with that aforementioned exposition, but once the brothers are in the woods, things happen at a rapid clip. It’s most effective when Payne and Dunne are together, and tends to come a little loose when not focusing on their interactions, but it all comes back together for a really wild ending. Devil in the Dark might not be the wildest idea ever committed to film, but the relationship at its heart is really something to recommend.

Devil in the Dark is available on VOD nationwide in the United States from Momentum Pictures on Tuesday, March 7.