‘Dark Nature’ Chases Trauma with a Desperate Fight for Survival

If you exit to the woods at this time, put together for a dark shock.

Epic Pictures Group

By Rob Hunter · Published on July twenty second, 2022

The twenty sixth version of the Fantasia International Film Festival runs July 14th by way of August third, and you’ll comply with all of our protection right here.

Trauma is a start line for quite a few horror movies for a few causes, and highest amongst them is that it creates stakes with a survivor who’s about to face some new nightmare. The greatest use it as extra than simply a leaping off level and as a substitute combine the experience into the combat for survival that’s but to return. Dark Nature succeeds on that entrance and extra, and whereas it hits a few snags the tip outcome remains to be an engrossing and thrilling horror movie.

Joy (Hannah Emily Anderson) is six months out of an abusive relationship with an ex who who menacingly flicked his steel lighter within the moments earlier than bursting at her with violent rage. Six months, however she’s nonetheless making an attempt to get better and having little luck. Her friend Carmen (Madison Walsh) convinces her to affix for a weekend mountaineering retreat, half journey into nature and half remedy session led by Dr. Dunnley (Kyra Harper). The thought is that going through extra natural fears may also help in going through those created by previous experiences, and alongside with two different ladies, Shaina (Roseanne Supernault) and Tara (Helen Belay), they head into the wilds of Alberta, Canada on a quest for therapeutic.

What they discover as a substitute are whispered reminders of previous struggling and a presence within the woods hoping to inflict some trauma of its personal.

Writer/director Berkley Brady‘s Dark Nature joins a long line of horror films about characters dealing with trauma, and if it can’t fairly hit the memorable highs of movies like Don’t Look Now (1973), His House (2020), or The Orphanage (2007), properly, it doesn’t have to. The film delivers a satisfying story of survival on its easy premise with a protagonist who earns our concern and our cheers. At beneath ninety minutes it’s honest to say that a lot of the characters really feel a bit underdeveloped, however the tradeoff is a welcome lack of drag or fats. It’s a lean combat towards the things that need to damage us.

All 4 of the supporting performances — 5 in case you embody Daniel Arnold‘s brief but terrifying turn as Joy’s ex — are sturdy regardless of the minimal consideration paid to exploring their respective characters. The ladies are all sufferers of Dr. Dunnley, and all of them are dealing with emotional points starting from PTSD and suicidal ideas to Carmen’s very actual issues over her friendship with Joy. There’s not sufficient consideration paid to their relationship on this regard, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a refreshing tackle a one-sided friendship as Carmen has been so drained by Joy that she simply doesn’t suppose she will choose up the items any extra.

Joy is the middle of Dark Nature, although, and he or she’s simply sturdy sufficient of a protagonist to essentially be all we in the end want. It’s clear the previous six months have left her rattled and liable to dark imaginations, however when she begins listening to and seeing things within the woods it’s unclear in the event that they’re actual. The answer comes quickly sufficient when the others begin listening to voices too, and Brady’s script does good work teasing these emotional issues into one thing much more tangible. Brief glimpses give approach to clearer views, and each the “creature” design and efficiency promote it as a very physical menace. The movie properly avoids providing up a detailed rationalization as to what it’s precisely, however the items are there in tales concerning the space and the indigenous peoples that lived there.

This is much from an costly movie within the grand scheme, however Brady and cinematographer Jaryl Lim make a sturdy case for filming open air irrespective of the price range. They take immense benefit of the natural magnificence and risks that make up the huge Alberta area, they usually succeed at discovering a creepy vibe even within the mild of day due to the dense bushes and tight crawlspaces. That latter ingredient will lead some to make comparisons to Neil Marshall’s The Descent (2005) — one other horror basic that finds motivation in trauma — however each the characters dynamics and cave time are stored to a minimal right here.

Dark Nature is in the end a pretty easy story of survival as Joy and the others combat towards previous wounds and current monsters, and whereas it doesn’t rewrite the subgenre it delivers the place it counts with horrifying chills and survival thrills. And no spoilers right here, nevertheless it’s additionally a movie that nails the ending by doing right by its characters — sounds easy sufficient, however far too many horror motion pictures drop the ball in these closing minutes whereas this one holds on tight.

Related Topics: Fantasia Film Festival

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since earlier than you had been born, which is bizarre seeing as he is so rattling younger. He’s our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists ‘Broadcast News’ as his favourite movie of all time. Feel free to say hello in case you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.

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