Coming Home in the Dark (2021)
Directed by: James Ashcroft | 93 minutes | crime, horror | Actors: Matthias Luafutu, Miriama McDowell, Erik Thomson, Billy Paratene, Frankie Paratene, Desray Armstrong, Alan Palmer, Daniel Gillies, Ike Hamon, Sam Carter, Bailey Cowan, Timon Zeiss, Tioti O’Donnell, Kaira O’Donnell
In ‘Coming Home in the Dark’, Alan, Jill and their teenage sons decide to hike the New Zealand coastline. What should be a fun get-together, however, soon turns into a violent nightmare when two psychopathic strangers disrupt their pleasure trip. The family is taken on a nighttime car ride to an unknown destination and confronted with their worst fears. But is their meeting as coincidental as they think? And what does Father Alan have up his sleeve?
‘Coming Home in the Dark’, directed by aspiring filmmaker James Ashcroft, makes it clear in the first few minutes that you are watching a horror film. Shady images, ominous music and the car journey to the coast immediately give the impression that these four characters are on their way to a certain fate. The film evokes memories of John Boorman’s ‘Deliverance’ (1972) and Michael Haneke’s ‘Funny Games’ (1997). These films are hard to match and Ashcroft certainly can’t do that with the faltering ‘Coming Home in the Dark’, in which potential is certainly hidden, but which never fully comes to the surface.
‘Coming Home in the Dark’ is a nasty horror film that is not for sensitive viewers. The film contains some very gruesome scenes and does not shy away from shocking its audience. James Ashcroft seems to be a director who doesn’t like a lot of fuss. He wastes little time with his debut film and almost immediately dives into atrocities. Fans of films such as ‘Wolf Creek’ (2005) or ‘Eden Lake’ (2008) will therefore undoubtedly like this print, but for fans of unique horror this film is somewhat passé.
The story of ‘Coming Home in the Dark’ follows a number of well-known horror conventions and offers little innovative itself. For a while, we as viewers are kept in the dark about the exact purposes of the characters. In the end, we are rewarded with answers. However, these are not satisfactory, and in themselves also raise the necessary questions. The characters are quite one-dimensional. The actors are clearly trying their best (actor Daniel Gillies in particular is convincing as one of the two antagonists), but we never really care about their fate. That’s a big problem, because in a movie like this, sympathetic characters are essential.
Could a higher level have been achieved with ‘Coming Home in the Dark’? No doubt. The atmosphere is good and the actors are solid, but that’s not nearly enough. There are simply no surprises or interesting plot twists lurking here. That makes ‘Coming Home in the Dark’, despite all that bloodshed, a very uncomplicated film.