Directed by Alex Herron (Leave) and written by Ulvrik Kraft (credited as Wolf Kraft), Dark Windows, at first glance, could be perceived as another formulaic “cabin in the woods” slasher; revenge being wrought upon a group of isolated teenagers by a mysterious masked assailant. Sound familiar? And yet, Dark Windows somehow ends up worse than my low expectations had led me to believe.
Starring a cast of up-and-coming talents, a car crash tragedy sends three friends, Tilly (Anne Bullard), Monica (Annie Hamilton) and Peter (Rory Alexander) to a neglected family estate in the tranquil countryside where they can reconnect for the weekend. But their first night is rough… Grief-stricken, Tilly finds herself questioning how they’ll ever be able to move forward, knowing their friend Ali (Grace Binford Sheene) is dead… and it was all due to their carelessness! Misusing alcohol as a coping mechanism, Peter overindulges, whilst Monica seems indifferent to their loss; texting Ali’s boyfriend with every intention of getting physical. It’s a clusterfuck of a vacation, and, unaware of an uninvited guest, their second night is about to get worse!
“We don’t deserve this. You don’t deserves this.”
Like Ari Aster’s contemporary horrors, Hereditary (2018) and Midsommar (2019), Herron and Kraft explore grief as a central theme; their characters, not only embodying the trauma of loss, but also the fear of uncertainty. Kim Berg’s soundtrack sets the tone, but unfortunately the filmmakers fail in realistically depicting human emotion, despite so much of the movie’s runtime being devoted to character development. The cast try their damnedest to convey their character’s interpersonal difficulties, but the result is unconvincing; Kraft’s characterisation lacking in logic. Speaking of logic, the trio of “teens” are portrayed by 20/30 something adults, which I always find quite jarring.
Perhaps, I’ve been too critical? Indeed, Herron and cinematographer Jens Ramborg understood the importance of shadow when framing their home invasion horror; a silhouette lurking in another room providing an unnerving jolt. But pacing is an issue… Dark Windows is a sloooooow burning thriller lacking in thrills, and a slasher devoid of a body count until the final act. Up until the final half hour, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a television melodrama, but once the masked aggressor makes themselves known, Dark Windows delivers a few intense kills before its abrupt end. Unfortunately, its just too little too late.
Dark Windows is currently in select USA theaters and available on demand now from Brainstorm Media.