‘The Darkest’ (2017) is no ordinary horror flick

by Martin Hafer

It is quite original…as well as odd.

The Darkest is certainly an unusual horror film. Little did I know that to really appreciate the film you’d first need a course on Existentialism, as well as an understanding of the physics conundrum known as ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’! Clearly this film is no ordinary horror flick!

The story begins with a physics professor delivering a lecture on Schrodinger’s Cat…a long-debated theoretical notion as to whether or not things actually exist if you cannot see them. Odd, I know…and that is how the picture began. At the same time, his wife is out cheating on him…but, since he did not see it, I was left wondering if it really did occur!

Soon the pair head out to the wilderness for a weekend trek. They’re going to go cave exploring, but first they need to hike to a campsite in the middle of nowhere just outside the cave. During the night, the wife appears to be hysterical…seeing and hearing things the audience and her husband cannot see or hear. It’s also pitch black outside and they have limited lighting. At one point, after the audience hears some screaming as well, the couple begin using a camera’s flash to briefly illuminate the night…and you see a Pugsley-like kid (from The Addams Family) who is chubby and in a striped shirt. He appears and disappears throughout the rest of the film and at times he’s covered in blood and sporting a butcher knife. What does all this mean? I am not sure but without much evidence, the woman suddenly knows what it’s all about and she reveals a secret about herself. I felt oddly confused regarding her answer and the rest of the film felt heavily influenced by philosophers like Kierkegaard and Jean-Paul Sartre! Seriously…I am not making this up!

So is it any good? Yes and no. I give the film kudos for its style, as well as managing to make a film with only two actors and a few bit actors here and there. The budget had to be minimal and for a young and impoverished filmmaker, this is a great lesson on economical film production. I also thought the use of so much darkness (over half the film is in the dark with no or minimal light) was very unsettling and effective. As to what it all means and how it’s all worked out…that left me flat and seems strongly influenced by modern French philosophy about existence and meaning. An oddly memorable film, that’s for sure…and one worth seeing if you have come to see a certain sameness about most horror movies these days. It is quite different!

Martin’s Grade: C+