The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Into the Dark | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Into the Dark

A young woman searches for her disappeared lover in a haunted apartment building.

Directed by: Mark Edwin Robinson
Starring: Mischa Barton, Ryan Eggold, Leah Pipes, Jaz Martin

'Into The Dark' is less a straightforward horror tale and more genre hybrid, mixing the romantic stylings of Nicholas Sparks, metaphysical ramblings on the nature of life and whether God exists in a loveless, callous universe and just a dash of 'The Sixth Sense' to justify casting Mischa Barton. That it doesn't follow the torture porn, shaky cam vibe that seems to mark out most modern horror is no bad thing. The fact it is not remotely scary (unless 'Twilight' gave you the heebie jeebies, in which case this will terrify you) may put it in the debit column for horror junkies.
Since the death of both her parents Sophia (Barton) has been in something of a funk, dropping the F bomb in church to a strangely accepting group of people during a funeral and generally not being very good company to her annoying English flat mate, Sam (Martin), who seems to think getting her laid may be the answer to familial grief. A chance meeting during an accident leads to a romance with Adam (Eggold) who, just as she is beginning to open her heart, ups and leaves without a word, but with a trail of blood. Has he had enough of her whining? Or has the supposedly haunted apartment block he lives in played a part in his abduction?
It would be easy to sneer at this type of earnest fodder, but there is a certain naïve charm to the film. By placing character to the front, Robinson gets attractive performances from his leads. Eggold may occasionally push the sardonic, but puppy dog pleasing a little too far at times, giving his character a slight creepy air of slapability, but is generally appealing. Barton though is convincingly damaged, being shut off and cold but never unlikable. Placing their burgeoning romance front and center for the first half of the film, means that when the supernatural shenanigans rear their ugly head you genuinely care about the outcome.
If it strives for profundity, but in the end settles for banality, at least it is trying something different, even if that is rehashing tropes from eighties "romance in the shadow of the Apocalypse" films like 'Miracle Mile'. Robinson shoots in the classic style and only becomes showy when indulging in time-lapse photography tricks that are more reminiscent of an REM video than conveying the first flourishes of romance.
Unfortunately the film falls apart at the climax using a flashback structure, as Sophia looks for her lost love Adam that makes little narrative or spatial sense. In the time frame of the movie they could have only been on about three dates, and we have already seen two of them, so why do we have endless flashbacks that imply they have been together for years? That and fuzzy reasoning as to why Sophia has become the target of malevolent forces in Adam's apartment burst the bubble of intrigue that has been so well maintained in the first half. That the film ends on a bitter-sweet note that fits what has gone before is, in the long run, not enough to save it. 
Much better than I was expecting. Not as good as it could have been.

Jason Abbey