Film Review – Coming Home In The Dark

Coming Home In The Dark (MA)

Directed by: James Ashcroft

Starring: Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

A family outing turns into a living nightmare in this shocking and thought-provoking exercise in suspense with substance.

High school teacher Alan Hoaganraad (Erik Thomson) his wife Jill (Miriama McDowell) and their teenage twin sons Maika (Billy Paratene) and Jordan (Frankie Paratene) are enjoying a pleasant, scenic road trip along the coast of New Zealand, for a brief break from their lives back home.

But when they stop in a picnic area chosen for its isolation, they are confronted by a pair of sinister drifters, the gun carrying Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) and his hulking, mostly silent mate Tubs (Matthias Luafutu).

At first it seems the thugs are just keen to rob and intimidate, but the longer the group spend together, the clearer it becomes that this encounter may not be as random as it first appeared.

Eli Kent and James Ashcroft have adapted Owen Marshall’s short story into a tense, bleak and devastating feature film.

It suggests at first that it may be heading into Wolf Creek/The Hills Have Eyes territory, with the rural setting and a jolting moment of shocking and brutal violence, but the film slowly segues into more Hard Candy territory as deeply buried truths are dragged to the surface.

Kent and Ashcroft, who also directed, eventually reveal that they are interested in exploring something deeper, rather than just exposing disturbing acts of violence for cheap thrills. This is about unresolved trauma, and the ease at which some can move on from and deny a violent act while others who are impacted cannot and are scarred for life.

What does happen to those who are left to fester in their pain and rage?

The cast is impeccable, with Gillies and Luafutu simply chilling with their scruffy appearance but calm demeanor, and their complete emotional control even during their violent acts. But it is McDowell, who is given as much depth as her male counterparts, who delivers an astonishingly emotional and believable performance.

Coming Home In The Dark is more than just nightmare fuel for thrill seekers, but something that will haunt you long after its devastating revelations and conclusion.

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