×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Daylight

"Daylight" is a discomforting experience throughout much of its compact 75-minute running time, primarily because of surface similarities to recent torture-porn thrillers with comparable setups.

With:
With: Brian Bickerstaff, Michael Godere, Ivan Martin, Alexandra Meierhans, Aidan Redmond.

Although technically polished and genuinely suspenseful, “Daylight” is a discomforting experience throughout much of its compact 75-minute running time, primarily because of surface similarities to recent torture-porn thrillers with comparable setups. Early scenes prime viewers to expect the worst, and helmer David Barker skillfully plays off that sense of dread. Overall lack of graphic violence and a satisfying payoff make the bitter pill surprisingly easy to swallow, but it’s likely that a plot synopsis will be enough to repel many potential ticketbuyers.

Transplanted Euros Danny (Aidan Redmond) and Irene (Alexandra Meierhans) make a wrong turn in the New England countryside while driving to a wedding, then compound their mistake by picking up a hitchhiker. One thing leads to another, and the couple winds up forcibly detained in a secluded house by the hitchhiker and two confederates.

To avoid being slaughtered, Danny frantically convinces his captors that Irene’s well-to-do father will pay handsomely for the couple’s safe return. So while brutish Murph (Brian Bickerstaff) drives Danny off to negotiate a ransom, the very pregnant Irene is left behind with Renny (Michael Godere) and Leo (Ivan Martin), unstable miscreants whose sudden mood swings keep their hostage, and the audience, in a constant state of unease.

Working from a script he co-wrote with Godere and Meierhans, Barker riffs on narrative conventions common to a subgenre that arguably can be traced back as far as “The Desperate Hours.” Cruel taunts, foiled escape attempts, sexually charged threats and fleeting interludes of near-bonding are just a few of the familiar items ticked off the checklist.

But thanks largely to the exceptional actors, particularly Martin and Meierhans, Barker sporadically infuses fresh life into stale cliches, and even makes a few of them truly compelling all over again. Midway through, there’s a gripping scene — cleverly echoed later in the pic — in which Leo searches for a knife Irene has slipped away from the dinner table, and then more or less dares her to stab him with it. It’s utterly shameless and undeniably effective. The same can be said about much else in “Daylight.”

A nice touch: Pic treats Irene’s religious beliefs with an irony-free seriousness that serves to make the anxious woman all the more sympathetic.

Some movie buffs will be amused to note slight but perceptible plot similarities between “Daylight” and, of all things, “The Tall T,” Budd Boetticher’s classic 1957 Western. To their credit, the filmmakers more or less acknowledge the influence in the closing credits.

Popular on Variety

Daylight

Production: A Cinema Purgatorio release of a Parts and Labor and White Buffalo Entertainment production in association with Hit & Run Prods. Produced by Jay van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Ben Howe. Executive producers, Charles Ledley, Jamie Mai, Ian McGloin, Jack Turner, Ray Privett. Directed by David Barker. Screenplay, Barker, Michael Godere, Alexandra Meierhans.

Crew: Camera (color), Nils Kenaston; editor, Katie McQuerrey; music, Stewart Wallace; production designer, Elliott Hosteller; sound, Jeremy Fleishman; associate producers, Kit Bland, Christopher Fuller; assistant director, Bland. Reviewed on DVD, Houston, July 10, 2011. Running time: 75 MIN.

With: With: Brian Bickerstaff, Michael Godere, Ivan Martin, Alexandra Meierhans, Aidan Redmond.

More Film

  • I Lost My Body

    ‘I Lost My Body’ Wins Grand Prize at Animation Is Film Festival

    “I Lost My Body,” the curious story of a disembodied hand searching to reunite with its body, won the grand prize at the Animation is Film Festival, held Oct. 18-20 in Los Angeles. The audience prize was split between two films, Makoto Shinkai’s “Weathering With You” and “The Swallows of Kabul” by Zabou Breitman and [...]

  • Jon Favreau'The Lion King' film premiere,

    Jon Favreau Addresses Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola's Criticism of Marvel Movies

    Jon Favreau, actor, director and staple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, addressed Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola’s criticisms of Marvel movies during an interview with CNBC.  “These two guys are my heroes and they’ve earned the right to express their opinions,” Favreau said. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if they didn’t carve [...]

  • Sir Lionel Frost (left) voiced by

    Laika Plans All-Day Retrospective of Catalog

    Award-winning animation studio Laika (“ParaNorman,” “Coraline”) will present a special retrospective entitled Missing Link and the Evolution of Laika in Los Angeles on Oct. 27. Taking place at The Landmark, the all-day event will begin at 10:30 a.m. with a screening of BAFTA Award-winning film “Kubo and the Two Strings” and close with an 8:45 [...]

  • Best Picture Contenders

    Examining the Best Picture Race in a Year of Disruption

    In the lead-up to Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” there was some fretting about how a director known for grindhouse exploitation might handle the summer of 1969, when the Manson murders capped a period of social upheaval. While Tarantino does get around to what happened on Cielo Drive on the fateful [...]

  • Vanessa Kirby poses for photographers at

    Vanessa Kirby to Star in Drama 'Pieces of a Woman' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Hobbs & Shaw” actress Vanessa Kirby is in negotiations to star in the Bron Studios pic “Pieces of a Woman,” sources tell Variety. Kornél Mundruczó will direct with Kata Wéber penning the script. Reps for Kirby could not be reached for comment. Specific plot details are being kept under wraps, but it is known that [...]

  • Suki WaterhouseSave the Children Centennial Celebration,

    Dark Castle, HanWay and Ingenious Partner on Simon Barrett's 'Seance' Starring Suki Waterhouse

    Dark Castle Entertainment, HanWay Films and Ingenious Media have partnered on horror film “Seance,” directed by Simon Barrett and starring Suki Waterhouse. Set in an all-girls boarding school haunted by a vengeful spirit, Waterhouse (“Assassination Nation,” “The Bad Batch”) plays Camille, a young woman who arrives at the Fairfield Academy following one of the student’s [...]

  • The Black List

    The Black List Reveals India Plans

    The Black List, an online yearly survey that features Hollywood’s most popular unpublished screenplays, is all set to make an imprint in India. The survey’s founder Franklin Leonard revealed this during a masterclass at the ongoing Mumbai film festival, where he is also serving as the head of the India Gold competition jury. “One of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content