Yes, it’s another two-fer. The 2010 movie And Soon the Darkness was churned out by one of my Random Movie machines, so when I saw that it’s a remake of a 1970 movie I decided to check the original out too. Like my recent RMR post about Narrow Margin and The Narrow Margin, the remake is my actual random movie so I watched it first. I know, it’s ass backwards, but that’s how I roll baby.
And Soon the Darkness (2010)
USA, Argentina, France
USA – 17 December 2010
UK – 11 February 2011
The poster for this movie makes it look like it might belong to the “torture porn” genre, and since (as you are aware) I have delicate sensibilities in that department I approached it with some degree of skittishness. Much to my relief, it is not torture porn, just a thriller/horror flick. Except that it isn’t that thrilling or horrifying.
Actually, the genre that this movie does belong in is “movies that wouldn’t exist if the characters didn’t make stupid choices.” Now, we all make mistakes; Lord knows I’ve made more than my share. Our mistakes don’t usually land us in a horror movie though.
As the film starts, we meet Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman), two American girls bicycling through Argentina. Turns out that they were traveling with a group and decided to “go AWOL.” First stupid choice. As they walk through the small town, everybody is staring at them. OK, here’s the thing: If you’re in a movie, in a small town, and everybody’s staring at you, things are about to get messed up. Doesn’t matter if it’s a small town in the US or anywhere, it’s one of those movie rules. If you find yourself in a small town and everybody’s staring at you…run like hell.
Well, our girls don’t do that. Instead they get a room, put on dresses, and go to the local cantina to flirt with boys. One of the boys turns out to be not very nice and tries to rape Ellie. Enter another American named Michael who comes to the rescue.
Michael is played by Karl Urban who played Bones in the Star Trek reboot. Like Bones, Michael is always scowling and looking intense. I kept waiting for him to say, “Are you out of your Vulcan mind? or, “He’s dead, Jim.” Even though there were no Vulcans or people named Jim in the movie. I decided that Michael was either going to be a cop who’s on vacation in Argentina or he was a red herring and was actually going to turn out to be one of the bad guys. I will not reveal whether I was right or not.
In another questionable decision, our girls decide to bike to a river to get some sun. Now at this point I thought, “OK, here comes the gratuitous nudity.”
Nope, just gratuitous bikinis.
Now, I have some conflicting thoughts here. I find myself thinking, “Sheesh, these girls are stupid. Going off by themselves in a strange land, lying around wearing next to nothing.” But I’m also a little ashamed of myself for thinking that. The feminist in me says, “Bullshit! Women have the right to go anywhere they want and wear anything they want.” This is true. Are these young ladies putting themselves in danger any more than if they went to some remote area in the States or in, say, France (well, stay tuned for the next movie)? What if they were two Argentinian girls who biked to a remote spot in Southern California? What if they were wearing burkas? Would I feel less inclined to think that they’re making stupid decisions? What if they were two guys?
The movie plays on those fears, and it strikes a chord of sexism and racism and tries to draw the viewer into it. Was that on purpose? I don’t know, but the movie made me think bad things. It’s like when somebody says, “Eww, this is gross. Taste it.” Then when you taste it they say, “You tasted it! You’re nasty!”
Anyway, the girls have a fight and go their separate ways. Stephanie rides off in a huff, then she returns to find that Ellie has disappeared. So Stephanie is alone in a strange town where she barely speaks the language and doesn’t know who to trust. All I will say at this point is that there are a couple of surprises in the movie, but most of the main plot points you can see coming a mile away.
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
As I said before, I admire the restraint of the filmmakers to not turn the movie into a bloodbath or go for gratuitous nudity. There is some violence, but nothing too graphic.
Having said that, the movie doesn’t really have a whole lot going for it, and some racist and sexist aspects as well. The best I can give it is…
Random Quote Whore Quote:
And Soon the Darkness is a cold, abysmal, recurrence of a movie! Amber Heard is outback!!!
And Soon the Darkness (1970)
UK – 10 September 1970
USA – 4 April 1971
This tidy little thriller was concocted by several veterans of the best British TV show ever, The Avengers, shortly after the show’s demise in 1969. This movie is nothing like the whimsical adventures of John Steed etc., nor is it much like the sci-fi and horror movies that some of its creators went on to make after it. There are no demons or undead creatures, just fear and paranoia on a sunny day in the French countryside.
Yes, you read that right. I said “a sunny day.” Even though the title is “And Soon the Darkness,” there is no darkness. Unlike the remake where the girls stop for the night, this movie takes place in the course of one day. The only real reference to darkness is when Jane (Pamela Franklin) says that they should push on so they aren’t on the road after dark.
Jane and Cathy (Michele Dotrice) are two British nurses on a bicycling holiday in France. As in the remake, they stop along the way, see a creepy guy, one of them actually seems to think the creepy guy is cute, the girls take a break for a bit of sunshine along the side of the road, they argue and split up, then the smart one goes back to find the other one missing.
The creepy guy keeps showing up looking creepy – slightly less so when he takes his sunglasses off. This time his name is Paul and he’s French, but we’re still not sure if he’s a good guy or not. He speaks English, though, that’s helpful. As with the remake, the plot depends on the girls being alone in a strange land and not being able to speak the language, but this time the country is also in Europe and you don’t get that crazy racism vibe that the 2010 version gives off.
And, correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t educated British nurses be able to speak more French than these girls do? I mean, us Amuricans are barely taught to speak English but don’t all Europeans speak at least nine languages?
Or is that a stereotype too?
I’m in trouble again, aren’t I?
Pamela Franklin does a good job. She had quite the career as a scream queen until she retired from acting in the 80s. The film was a bit of a departure from the usual horror/thriller genre because it all took place in daylight. Some of the publicity called it a “sun drenched nightmare.” I don’t know if it really deserves to be compared to Hitchcock’s best, like the poster does, but as thriller’s go it’s a pretty good one.
Maybe I’m generous because I have such great affection for The Avengers, and one could make a pretty good case that this movie marked the beginning of a decline for most involved. Brian Clemens went on to make some lesser era Hammer Films and a Highlander movie, Terry Nation remained a prisoner of The Daleks, and Robert Fuest killed his career by directing The Devil’s Rain – a movie that had Satanic High Priest Anton LaVey as a technical advisor.
Wow! Was LaVey on the set? “Who’s the bald dude over by craft services?” “Oh that’s The Least Reverend Anton LaVey. He’s here to make sure we get the Satanism right.”
The Misplaced Boy MST3K Scale:
Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed, the remake is pointless but the original is worth seeing. I’m giving it a…
Random Quote Whore Quote:
And Soon the Darkness is a thrown, favoring, purport of a movie! Pamela Franklin is untwisted!!!