[review by JA Kerswell]
|Bereaved friends find themselves watched by a masked intruder in DARK WINDOWS.|
DARK WINDOWS is a slow-burn slasher film that earns its escalating tension and dread - although, arguably, doesn’t quite stick the landing. Three friends head to a remote farmhouse following the death of a close friend. Only, they are not alone and find themselves menaced by a masked assailant seemingly hellbent on toying with them in a deadly game.
Tilly (Anna Bullard) is joined by her friends Peter (Rory Alexander) and Monica (Annie Hamilton) at the wake of their friend Ali (Grace Binford Sheene). The four had been involved in a car crash that had been fatal for Ali, but left the other three unscathed - at least physically. The memorial is excruciatingly awkward when Ali’s uncle publicly blames Tilly for her death. Monica suggests the three get away and lick their wounds at her grandparents’ remote farmhouse.
Initially, they enjoy each other’s company and try and put a brave face on things (something they cannot do when alone). Tilly is especially guilt-ridden as she was supposedly the one driving the car when it crashed. She becomes annoyed that Monica doesn’t appear as upset, but forgives her when she sees a shrine, including a photo of Ali surrounded by lit candles, on the dining room table. Each presumes the other has built it to the memory of their dead friend, but only realise too late that someone else is in the house and knows exactly what went on that night …
Not a great deal happens in the first half of DARK WINDOWS, but that hardly matters as we spend the time in the surprisingly likeable company of the three friends. Well-acted and sympathetic, the film throws the viewer into conflict when we realise that they may not be as innocent as we have been led to think. It does feel that this slow-burn approach is warranted, as the tension builds incrementally.
|DARK WINDOWS is a slowburn take on slasher themes.|
Tilly is shocked to hear Ali’s disembodied voice echoing through the house. It is initially hinted that this could be of supernatural origin, but it turns out they are facing a much more corporeal threat intent on revenge. The friends begin to realise this when it becomes clear that the dead girl’s voice has come from a recording from the night of the crash.
Once the farmhouse is under attack by the masked villain, the film is almost unbearably tense and suspenseful. Arguably, DARK WINDOWS could have benefitted from more of this and less slow burn. The last act of the film may well be polarising, as it veers into something approaching the dreaded ‘torture porn’ genre. Although, again, it feels like it has earned this gut punch - again made more difficult because the three main characters are flawed yet likeable. This isn’t a popcorn slasher despite the utilisation of a killer in a mask. It deals with themes of grief and guilt within a slasher thriller framework. Obviously taking inspiration from the likes of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997), this proves to be a much more downbeat and ultimately nihilistic affair. It is, however, the only film I have ever seen where someone is drowned in vodka.
Although set somewhere in North America, DARK WINDOWS was filmed in Norway with a mostly North American cast. Norwegian director is best known for his music videos, but although this $1 million production is slick it isn’t in the least bit gaudy.
Not entirely successful, DARK WINDOWS is well made and often suspenseful, but don’t go in expecting the feel-good hit of the summer.
female: 1 / male: 2
1) Male hit on the head with a baseball bat
2) Male drowned in a bag of vodka
3) Female has her neck broken
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