We've seen a fair number of Irish horror movies this century, perhaps in part due to the development of Ireland's 'Celtic Tiger' economy around 2000. Whatever the reason, I've enjoyed some of these productions a lot. Wake Wood (2009) and Grabbers (2012) are both, in their different ways, homages to classic horror plots. Last night I watched another Irish horror/thriller that falls into a well-established category, and enjoyed it in moderation.
From the Dark is the tale of Mark and Sarah, a young couple on holiday in County Offaly. Predictably enough they get lost and then their car breaks down on a country road. What will they encounter? An isolated community conducting a weird pagan ritual, while brandishing sharp implements? An inbred family of cannibals, brandishing sharp implements? Well, no, this one is about a monster of distinctly supernatural qualities, and its sharp implements are its teeth.
We know what's going on, more or less, thanks to an opening scene featuring a lone peat cutter. The old farmer unearths a bog-body, which would be lovely for archaeology. Unfortunately the simple countryman firstly pulls a stake from the body, which is asking for trouble. Sure enough, by the time Mark plods his way to the farm looking for help the old man is far gone. He has been bitten by something between Nosferatu and a CHUD - a being that happens to be allergic to light.
Sarah and Mark find themselves in the farmhouse where most of the lights have been smashed. They have to produce enough light to keep the creature at bay until dawn. Unfortunately Mark is badly mangled and Sarah has to person up. In the role Niamh Algar gives it full throttle as a kind of Final Girl (who also happens to be the Only Girl, it's a low-budget film). The scenes in which Sarah has to produce light by any means and is reduced to relying on an almost-empty box of matches are very effective. Eventually, as we know she will, Sarah defeats the beast. But not before she has suffered at least one terrible defeat.
This one passes the time, but is a little over-long for its premise. As an episode of a series it might have been brilliant. As a film it does inevitably seem a little cheap and uninspired. But visually it works well most of the time, and a creature that is only ever glimpsed, always in shadow and often out of focus, is always fun.