I really dislike horror movies. Call me a wuss, I just never saw the appeal in being scared out your mind and having your heart pounding in your chest, waiting for the next moment that causes you to jump five feet out of your seat. Maybe I just don’t like surprises, which is what getting Dark Corners to review turned out to be. By now I’m used to DVDs arriving I didn’t know about previously, but this one was special. It was a film that “truly frightens” and is “genuinely creepy.” While the film does pack a few shock moments, it’s relatively tame in terms of real “horror.” It’s more of a psychological thriller and at the end of the film, if you’re like me, you’ll probably stare at the credits roll and utter “what the” followed by the expletive of your choice, as you will honestly have no idea what you just watched.
Having said that I don’t like horror movies, I found I do like psychological thriller ones. A few episodes of Lost has shown me that I like having my head toyed with and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind remains as one of the strongest head-splitters I’ve seen to date. While Dark Corners does toy with the idea of breaking your mind trying to figure it out, it leaves too little for you to even understand it in the end.
Dark Corners follows Karen Clarke and Susan Hamilton (both played by Thora Birch) in which both dream about each other’s lives. While Karen’s life is largely sunshine and bunnies, Susan’s is a horrific nightmare, which Susan keeps having nightmares about. A killer is loose and eventually hunts down and kills all of Karen and Susan’s friends, making both Karen and Susan worried if they’re next. The films story is summed up by Karen’s line midway through the film, “Hell is like someone pulling your sins from the dark corners of your soul and serving it to you on a platter in an endless loop of torture.” I had to turn to the IMDb boards and read discussions just to discover what the ending and plot of the film was really about. I can’t decide if the movie is so smartly written that I just didn’t see all the connections or if the movie is so poorly written that they don’t give the audience enough time to make them.
The acting from the film is largely B-level, though no one really fumbles their performances. From a directing standpoint it felt slightly above a step of “made-for-TV”, which isn’t exactly a feeling I want when watching a movie. Nothing in the film screams horrible (though I guess shoving sharp object up a woman, pulling out a fetus and then licking it is pretty horrible), it doesn’t yell great either. It’s a largely mediocre film.
Overall while the movie has some beautiful cinematography in the dark world of Susan Hamilton (the tilted cameras and orange/blue hued skies look great), it’s not really worth your time to watch. There are much better films out there to be watching and Dark Corners can easily be skipped.
While I may not have enjoyed the film, I disliked the DVD even more. The DVD insert has a slight grainy look to it, making it look like it’s homemade. Interior has no paper inserts and the disc art mirrors the cover. Menus are atrocious and look like they’re from an early 90s Warner DVD. The special features menu is horrible, as it lists three trailers in a row (one of which isn’t designated “Trailer”, so you don’t really know what it is until you click it) and then a behind-the-scenes featurette for Dark Corners is sitting at the bottom. Video and audio on this release is strong. Video looks great in both worlds and the audio is clean and clear throughout, though the rear channels get little use. A major disappointment is the video isn’t anamorphic (it’s a boxed widescreen image in a 4:3 transfer), which makes no sense in this day of DVDs.
The biggest piss-off factor I got on this release was after watching the movie I decided I’d understand it better after I watched the “feature commentary from director Ray Gower, and star Thora Birch” that the back of the DVD case promised. Guess what? There’s no commentary! There’s the aforementioned behind-the-scenes featurette, but no commentary. It’s not on the menus and selecting audio tracks during the film only gives you the 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby options. I’ve seen some goof ups on DVD packages in the past, but this is bordering more on false advertising. (Edit: After re-reading the packaging, I discovered it did say “featurette”, though the use of “commentary” was placed to sound as if there was a full commentary on the film.)
That rounds out the DVD itself. There’s really not much here to watch aside from the featurette (which is worth watching if you enjoyed the film, you get some insight on it from the director and actors) and the commentary screw-up is just annoying.
Overall this release gets a big fat Skip, not only due to the mediocre film on it but for the DVD portion which fails to impress.