In Darkness (1 star)

In Darkness

Inconsistent and distasteful thriller co-written by its star Natalie Dormer

In Darkness is a British thriller that wears dog-eared Hitchcockian notions of suspense on its sleeve; the film-within-a-film gambit of the opening evokesBrian De Palma's 1981 thriller Blow Out, while the menacing of the blind musician played by Natalie Dormer recalls 1967's Wait Until Dark. For Dormer, co-writing with director / partner Anthony Byrne, casually smooshing together genre tropes is clearly fun, it's when real-life genocidal horrors are tossed into the mix that the film comes a cropper.

Sofia (Dormer) is living downstairs from Veronique (Emily Ratajkowski) in posh London flats, and has agreed to play the piano at a gala event for her neighbour's father. Veronique's dad is war-criminal Zoran Radic (Jan Bijvoet). Once Veronique falls to her death, this intriguing sub-Michael Haneke premise gives way to espionage-based drama centred around a McGuffin in the form of a USB stick hidden somewhere on the property, desired by the mysterious Marc (Ed Skrein). Sofia faces a violent ordeal by home-invasion, kidnapping and more, but the longer she survives the more her own motives come into question.

Opening with a close-up of a woman being throttled, In Darkness creates cheap thrills from women-in-peril scenarios, but the script's eventual focus on characters avenging war atrocities sits uneasily alongside such cheesy exploitation clichés. Bursts of choreographed action only muddy the waters, suggesting Byrne can't decide what kind of film he wants to make.

In Darkness constitutes something of a Game of Thrones reunion for Dormer, Skrein and co-star James Cosmo but, despite decent cinematography and sound design, the result is unlikely to appeal to the show's fans. Those who do brave Byrne's silly, distasteful film will be rewarded with a twist that renders everything that went before it as complete and utter gibberish.

Selected release from Fri 6 Jul.

In Darkness

  • 1 star
  • 2018
  • UK / US
  • 1h 40min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Anthony Byrne
  • Cast: Natalie Dormer, Emily Ratajkowski, Ed Skrein
  • UK release: 6 July 2018

Sofia (Dormer) is a blind pianist whose life is threatened when her exotic upstairs neighbour Veronique (Ratajkowski) falls to her death. A theme of avenging real-life war atrocities sits uneasily alongside the cheesy exploitation clichés, and a final twist renders everything that went before as complete gibberish.

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