COMING HOME IN THE DARK gets 7.5/10 Out of the darkness

Directed by James Ashcroft

Starring Daniel Gillies, Miriama McDowell, Erik Thomson, Matthias Luafutu


When it comes to grim, nasty horror films, Coming Home in the Dark is sure to be the feel-bad film of the year that you’re after. It doesn’t quite purport to be anything else, and it could actually be nastier in style, but it’s a dedicated horror-thriller that’s sure to get your palms and other bodily regions sweaty.

A family of four are enjoying a camping adventure, when they’re suddenly confronted by two men, one of them seems to be the leader, doing the most talking and wielding the only gun. The family are taken captive by the men, driving them to an undisclosed destination, though whose whereabouts may be hinted at as the leader keeps talking.

This is sure as hell an experience of a film, putting you squarely in the experience of this horrific situation. It doesn’t let up with the unflinching brutality as the story moves along logically, with no crazy or tenuous asides encroaching on the doom-laden situation. The only breadth the story is given is the insinuations of vengeance these two men wish to enact.

The grand New Zealand landscape is only glimpsed at initially, before we’re confined to the tight-quarters that are the car these central characters spend their time in. It’s very handsomely filmed, making good use of darkness, though it may seem a bit too well filmed, with no room for nastiness in the film’s visual style. The film seems to be stylistically very careful, but it would have been complimentary to include as much surprise and shock to the style as there is in the story.

Coming Home in the Dark has a mission to be a full-on horror film, and it achieves that. It may not go to the lengths that an exploitation film would, but it keeps itself reasonably reserved, yet never runs out of steam or horrifying revelations to come. For a directorial debut, it is an impressively made horror-thriller that is sure to delight (in its own twisted way) both casual and seasoned fans of the horror genre.