×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Out of the Dark’

This Colombia-shot supernatural suspenser with American/British leads and a mostly Spanish creative team offers professional polish but no interesting ideas or atmospherics.

With:
Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Stephen Rea, Pixie Davies, Vanessa Tamayo, Alejandro Furth, Alvaro Garcia Trujillo, Elkin Diaz, Maria Fernanda Yepes. (English, Spanish dialogue)

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2872724/

Ghosts are scary and stuff in “Out of the Dark,” a horror opus just as generic and forgettable as its title. This Colombia-shot supernatural suspenser with American/British leads and a mostly Spanish creative team offers professional polish but no interesting ideas or atmospherics, feeling like a rote echo of numerous already overmilked genre conventions from the get-go. Already released on VOD last month, with a U.S. theatrical launch Feb. 27 on 10 screens around the country, the pic should do its job as a routinely passable time-killer in various formats and various territories. But there’s nothing here that will spark above-average returns, let alone even a direct-to-vid sequel.

After the usual prologue establishing that bad things happen to people who live in the story’s particular setting, we meet the Harrimans as they arrive from London. Sarah (Julia Stiles) is assuming a job as general manager of the Bogota factory owned by her father, Jordan (Stephen Rea). Her husband, Paul (Scott Speedman), will continue his work as a children’s book illustrator, and they’ll both carry on parenting their approximately 6-year-old only child, Hannah (Pixie Davies).

Their daughter becomes a source of concern when Mom and Dad go out for an evening. While housekeeper/nanny Catalina (Vanessa Tamayo) is distracted by strange noises, Hannah somehow gets stuck in a dumbwaiter shaft, where she’s terrorized by the child-sized, blindfolded spirits we’ve already seen lurking about. Once found, she grows mysteriously ill, then is dragged off into the surrounding jungle by the same specters. While at first the house’s poltergeist-like disturbances seem connected to a 500-year-old legend of Spanish Conquistadores’ cruelty, the frantic parents eventually uncover a much more recent guilty secret connected to Jordan’s lengthy oversight of the factory.

Production materials indicate the participants’ pride in making a movie that combines scary-movie elements with social issues. But this last aspect (involving the environmental/worker-health responsibilities of industry) feels so crudely tacked-on — especially via a syrupy closing-credits sequence — that it only underlines the secondhand quality of the horror elements. Creepy now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t phantom kids, sudden noises, windows bursting open, thunderstorms, escalating parental panic, et al., arrive on cue, as if checked off a list of horror tropes (particularly as derived from recent Spanish genre cinema).

There’s nothing terribly wrong with “Out of the Dark,” beyond a general lack of originality that grows more obvious as the screenplay’s pedestrian mystery is unraveled. First-time feature helmer Lluis Quilez, who’s made several well-received narrative shorts, pulls pro design contributions into a handsome enough package that makes decent use of locations. The lead actors are solid as usual, but you can feel them all knocking their heads against the low ceiling of material that’s afraid to take any risks — playing it so safe that the film ends up lacking anything in the way of real personality, scares or plot surprises.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Out of the Dark'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Feb. 23, 2015. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 93 MIN.

Production: (U.S.-Spain-Colombia) A Vertical Entertainment release of a Participant Media and Image Nation presentation in association with Exclusive Media of an Apaches Entertainment, Cactus Flower and Fast Producciones production in association with Dynamo and XYZ Films. Produced by Belen Atienza, Andres Calderon, Cristian Conti, Enrique Lopez Lavinge. Executive producers, Atienza, Jonathan King, Jeff Skoll, Nick Spicer.

Crew: Directed by Lluis Quilez. Screenplay, Javier Gullon, David Pastor, Alex Pastor. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Isaac Vila; editor, Bernat Vilaplana; music, Fernando Velazquez; production designer, Inigo Navarro; art director, Juan Carlos Acevedo; costume designer, Bina Daigeler; sound (Dolby Digital), Leonel Pedraza; sound designers, Oriol Tarrago, Marc Bech; re-recording mixer, Marc Orts; special makeup effects, Monica Alarcon, David Marti, Montse Ribe; visual effects, Lluis Castells; assistant director, Manel Martinez; casting, Shaheen Baig, Ana Isabel Velazquez.

With: Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Stephen Rea, Pixie Davies, Vanessa Tamayo, Alejandro Furth, Alvaro Garcia Trujillo, Elkin Diaz, Maria Fernanda Yepes. (English, Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

  • Hereditary

    The Best Horror Films to Stream Right Now

    Good horror movies aren’t always easy to scare up, but with Halloween on the horizon, Variety has compiled a list of some of the best horror films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. NETFLIX Apostle Cult horror meets religious hypocrisy in this creepy gothic thriller, which follows prodigal son Thomas Richardson, who returns home [...]

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

  • US director Francis Ford Coppola holds

    Francis Ford Coppola Honored With Prestigious Lumiere Prize by Thierry Fremaux, Bong Joon Ho

    Francis Ford Coppola took the stage to claim the Lumière Festival’s lifetime achievement honor, the Lumière Prize, in a stirring celebration that marked the festival’s 10th edition on Friday night in Lyon, France. The four-time Academy Award winner accepted the prize after a series of video tributes, musical performances and testimonials from family, friends and [...]

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content