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And Soon the Darkness Reviews

And Soon the Darkness feels like one of those modest, satisfying little thrillers that flies under most people’s radar upon initial release, only to find a healthy second life on home video and cable television. Somewhat slow to start but fairly riveting once the plot sets into motion, the film steadily gets better as it goes along, effectively ratcheting up tension by placing the viewer in the position of a frightened girl lost in a foreign country, and continually dropping her into situations where it’s never quite clear whom she should really trust. Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman) are biking through the Argentinean countryside when they stop to spend the last night of their vacation in a secluded village. When darkness falls, the girls wander over to the nearest bar, where a handsome local charms Ellie while Stephanie heads back to the hotel to get a good night's sleep. Her rest is interrupted, though, when Ellie returns to the hotel with her new friend in tow, and a booze-fueled altercation ultimately leads the girls to miss their bus. The following day, Stephanie leaves Ellie alone in the countryside following a heated argument, and grows concerned when her traveling companion fails to meet her at a nearby restaurant shortly thereafter. In the wake of a chance meeting with American expatriate Michael (Karl Urban), whom she had previously seen getting into a minor altercation at the bar, Stephanie reports Ellie's disappearance to local policeman Calvo (Cesar Vianco), who immediately dismisses her suspicions of foul play. Thankfully Michael displays a bit more concern than the local sheriff, and agrees to assist Stephanie in searching for Ellie. But now the more Stephanie confides in Michael, the more she begins to fear that he may have had something to do with Ellie's disappearance, and that by sticking with him she could be walking straight into his trap. A smart candidate for a remake due to the fact that few contemporary moviegoers have likely seen or even heard of the 1970 original, And Soon the Darkness is the debut feature from director Marcos Efron, who worked with screenwriter Jennifer Derwingson to adapt Brian Clemens and Terry Nation’s original screenplay. Though the subpar performances Efron coaxes from his three capable leads suggest that the emerging director has yet to master the art of working with actors, and the handsome cinematography hints that he’s leaning a little too heavily on director of photography Gabriel Beristain (The Spanish Prisoner, Blade II) to maintain an air of seductive menace, And Soon the Darkness still succeeds in holding our attention thanks to its strong central concept and twisting storyline. The more momentum the story builds, the more pronounced the strengths of the screenplay become as they gradually begin to outweigh the film's weaknesses. Eventually, we become so completely absorbed in the mystery that we can’t look away. While that may sound like faint praise, it’s pretty comforting to the insomniac channel surfer with a tired thumb.