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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell J.

Coming Home in the Dark (CFF) is a Brutal Exercise in Tension and Revenge

Title: Coming Home in the Dark

First Wide Release: October 1, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms, Select Theaters)

Director: First Name Last Name

Writer: First Name Last Name

Runtime: 93 Minutes

Starring: Erik Thomson, Daniel Gillies, Matthias Luafutu

Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here

This film’s review was written after its screening in the Chattanooga Film Festival 2021.

While on a road trip together a family decides to have a picnic in a scenic yet remote park. As they are enjoying their meal, two drifters appear setting into motion a terrifying sequence of events throughout the night where the family must endure a road trip from hell. The father of the family becomes their primary target once he reveals that he is a schoolteacher and that he may have a past that’s worth questioning. The further they continue, the more past secrets and transgressions come to life. What justice will come from the night and who will reap it?

An upsetting and turbulent horror film, Coming Home in the Dark will break you into pieces by the end.

Starting off with bold and inspired choices, Coming Home in the Dark surprises and shocks at every turn. The mystery unfurls naturally, and we are given only just enough to understand why this is happening. The only predictable thing about this movie is that anything could happen to anyone at any time. At each reveal, it feels as though you’ve been struck by an intense jolt of lightning. It pulls no punches concerning the capabilities of any of the characters, which is a welcome change of pace from similarly set up survival thrillers. There are plenty of coincidences here that take viewers out just a tad. Soon enough though another trap will be sprung to bring everyone back into the vicious folds on the film.

Leading the feature is Hoaggie (Erik Thomson) who proves to be a dynamic character, often propelling the narrative to new heights with his insatiable drive for self-preservation. His need for survival kicks in and we learn more about him than we would in a standard horror film. In fact, his moral compass as a character is by far the most interesting thing about him as he tries to justify his way out of retribution. Second to Hoaggie is Tubs (Matthias Luafutu), the brooding muscle behind the kidnappers’ operation. His thirst for purpose and closure is compelling down to the final moments of the film. The entire cast does a great job of crafting fully realized characters, which they get plenty of help from the well-written script.

There’s a quiet sadness about the film that is amplified by expert filmmaking. The surroundings are bleak and isolated, which helps bring the mood down to absolute lows. Between isolated gas stations, closed racecar tracks, and abandoned schools, everything feels so lost and broken, much like the characters in tow on their road trip to Hell. The night shots themselves are visually stunning for how clear and defined they are while still maintaining the mystery of darkness. Thanks to exceptional sound design, every crunch, bang, and whimper sends a quick shiver down the spine.

Grim and unflinching, Coming Home in the Dark explores the darkness underneath us all in a downbeat and uncompromised vision of delayed reprisal. Revenge, forgiveness, and trauma are difficult and unpredictable in the way they manifest. Characters must come to terms with what they’ve done or what they will do. There’s a feeling of danger and cruelty that permeates the film that you cannot shake and it’s beautiful. Oftentimes trauma gets repackaged in a sexy way that glorifies the journey of victimhood into becoming a survivor. Here, it’s brutal, raw, and ugly. By the end, can anyone really claim victory here? At what cost is getting what you want eclipse what keeps you alive? What would you do or allow to happen to make that a reality? Coming Home in the Dark forces viewers to ask themselves hard questions about themselves and their loved ones.

An unforgettable journey into a night of bloodshed and anguish, Coming Home in the Dark is a white-knuckle thriller that doesn’t give its audience a break. It is not an easy journey, nor does it provide easy answers. As the night gets darker, so do the characters. Between steadfast rationalizations and nauseating acts of violence, the entire crew’s bodies and spirits break down from abuse. There are no easy answers in this twisted survival horror film and the blurred lines make the pain and terror more intense. While it is still on the festival circuit, this film should absolutely be on your radar for when it does see a wide release. Coming Home in the Darklives up to its name by plunging its viewers in the abyss that is human cruelty.

Overall Score? 7.5/10

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