If you were one of the many people who helped fund Nick Basile’s feature-length debut Dark, like myself, you’ll be very pleased to know that this one was definitely worth the investment. Watching Dark, you’d have a hard time believing this was Basile’s first feature film, since this one is shot with such precision that many longtime filmmakers have a hard time achieving. It’s a haunting look inside one’s psyche that you can’t turn away for a second.
The film follows Kate (Whitney Able) during the summer of 2003 in New York City which depicts the real-life blackout of that time. Kate is a beautiful young woman who has a troubled past and a slightly rocky relationship with Leah (Alexandra Breckenridge), an excellent photographer who has to travel out-of-town for the weekend leaving Kate all alone, just before the blackout hits.
Now this one hit home, more than I expected. As someone who has a loved one that has serious depression and mental illness, it was hard to watch as Kate began to break down and you witness the scars on her body, suggesting a dark time in her past. Depression and mental illness is one of the worst things a person can experience, they feel trapped, unloved, ugly and no matter what you do, it’s almost impossible to change their mind, it’s absolutely terrifying, and Able captured that tormented soul perfectly.
During the blackout, Kate is almost trapped in her apartment, the darkness engulfs her and plays on her mind. You witness her decent into madness and despair, believing that someone is in her very building stalking her. With no-one to call, Kate is left to face her demons head-on and it’s absolutely haunting. Everything from the direction, the lighting all the way down to the excellent score which keeps you on the edge of your seat, my hands are still sweaty as I type this just remembering Kate’s fear played out on-screen. There are few thriller’s that are able to get under my skin, but Dark has perfectly managed that thanks to Elias’ screenplay and Basile’s direction.
For some, this may be a little slow, but I urge you to stay with it. It’s all about getting to know the characters, especially Kate and her life in general, as this all leads up to the shocking finale which had me biting my nails, it was that intense.
As this was on a low-budget, I believe somewhere in the region of $400,000, most of the film is shot in a single location, but even so you still get the scope that New York City is engulfed in a total blackout, which I thought was impressive considering the budget. This was never going to be an easy task replicating the events of 2003, but I believe they pulled it off while delivering an original story at the same time.
While the film may be dark, especially in terms of the subject matter involving Kate, there is some lightheartedness thanks to Redman’s great little cameo, keep an eye out for it. But the standout is Whitney Able, just fantastic, I couldn’t imagine anyone else pulling off this role.
All in all, I totally recommend Dark. It’s a brooding, eerie, gritty and dark tale that will definitely creep under your skin long after the credits have rolled.