Synopsis: A group of teenagers take a trip to an isolated summerhouse in the countryside. What starts as a peaceful getaway turns into a horrific nightmare when a masked man begins to terrorize them in the most gruesome ways.
Stars: Anna Bullard, Annie Hamilton, Rory Alexander, Jóel Sæmundsson, Morten Holst
Director: Alex Herron
Running Length: 80 minutes
TMMM Score: (6.5/10)
Review: I tend to have a strong aversion to screenplays that double back on themselves, so generally, movies that start at the end raise an alert for me. Inevitably, what we’re shown at the start is a red herring to what occurs when we return to the action an hour or so later. I’ve never understood the purpose of this awkward framing device, primarily because it’s been used so often, and you wonder if the filmmakers think audiences aren’t aware a bait-and-switch is about to happen.
English-language Norwegian horror thriller Dark Windows begins at (or very near) the end when a survivor of a night’s worth of terror has been cornered and is seemingly ready to meet their maker. A quick jump takes us several days earlier to find Tilly (Anna Bullard) struggling to enter the wake of Ali, a friend recently killed in a car accident. Tilly, Monica (Annie Hamilton, Marriage Story), and Peter (Rory Alexander) were in the car, but all three made it out with barely a scrape. Feeling the pressure of a town’s worth of stares and questions about why they survived, and their friend didn’t, the three escape to Monica’s remote weekend home for a few days to relax and take stock of what’s next.
What’s next is being stalked by a killer intent on making them pay for their survival by ensuring they don’t see the light of day. Gradually, secrets from the night of Ali’s death are revealed, leading audiences to believe that maybe the killer knows what they did that summer night and is taking bloody steps in avenging a loved one…or is someone closer to them trying to eliminate loose ends?
Director Alex Herron maintains a good air of suspense throughout, and despite some third act swerves into true brutality, the viscera found in Dark Windows is relatively tame. That leaves room for tension to rule above gore and fleshed-out performances (solid across the board) to emerge. It’s a fairly standard story, as written by Ulvrik Kraft, but getting it on its feet and handing it to the filmmaker and actors puts it in the “worth a peek” category.