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And Soon the Darkness DVD Review

And Soon the Darkness (2010) DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Running Time: 91 Minutes / Rating: R / Video Debut: December 28, 2010 / Songs List

Director: Marcos Efron / Writers: Jennifer Derwingson, Marcos Efron (screenplay); Brian Clemens, Terry Nation (original film And Soon the Darkness)

Cast: Amber Heard (Stephanie), Odette Yustman (Ellie), Karl Urban (Michael), Adriana Barraza (Rosamaria), César Vianco (Calvo), Michel Noher (Chucho), Luis Sabatini (Luca), Daniel Figuereido (Pedro), Jorge Booth (Hernán), Gia Mantegna (Camila)

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish; Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Suggested Retail Price: $26.97; Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($34.98 SRP)

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The cover art for And Soon the Darkness makes it pretty clear how the movie will play out. You've got two happy pretty young women in bikinis. But there is also, and this must be where the title comes in, a creepy man and those same girls in fast escape and tormented binding.

This new American film isn't likely to become much better known than the little 1970 British horror movie it remakes. It opens exclusively at Laemmle's Sunset 5 theater in West Hollywood this Friday and premieres on DVD and Blu-ray just eleven days later. While being unable to secure a real theatrical release generally implies a lack of quality, here I suspect the decision is born more out of the limited commercial prospects that stem from not having a recognizable title, huge stars, or a radical premise.

On vacation in small-town Argentina, friends Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie (Odette Yustman) discover they've just missed their bus, which runs only once a day.

The movie centers on two close friends: wild brunette Ellie (Odette Yustman) and more responsible blonde Stephanie (Amber Heard). A day into their group bike tour through South America, the girls go their own way, taking in the flavor of small-town Argentina. Speaking little Spanish, they give off a slightly obnoxious American tourist vibe to the local folk, as they bike, shop, and sunbathe together.

Thirty minutes into the film, the girls have a little spat and split up. While they arrange to reunite soon for lunch, Ellie doesn't show up. Her phone has been left behind at the waterfalls where she was, but there is no trace of her. A worried Stephanie is offered assistance by Michael, the aforementioned creepy man of the cover (Karl Urban, Bones in J.J. Abram's Star Trek). He arouses her suspicion, as does Chucho (Michel Noher), the man Ellie clicked with at a bar the night before.

Two things are clear. Ellie is not the first attractive young female to go missing in the area. And Calvo (César Vianco), the town's one policeman, does not offer much in the way of reassurance. Alone and increasingly concerned, Stephanie does her own investigating into her friend's disappearance, receiving little help from the townspeople.

Ellie (Odette Yustman) demonstrates she's the wild one with a jukebox Divinyls sing-along inside and this very public display of affection with Chucho (Michel Noher) outside the local bar. The search for her missing friend brings Steph (Amber Heard) to these salty Argentine ruins.

And Soon the Darkness is surprisingly effective at generating and maintaining suspense. While the structure is absolutely about moving hot vacationing girls into foreign danger, neither phase is misplayed by director Marcos Efron, who makes his feature debut here.
Sure, most viewers aren't entering to hear the girls discuss their relationship tendencies, but we don't get the sense that time is being killed until the mystery arises. And while the bikinis don't come out by accident, they're natural vacation attire and not just titillation to keep viewers alert.

If viewers aren't already invested, then the central turn will put them on edge. The basics of the story are familiar, but all the various questions regarding the presumed abduction aren't easily answered. The movie doesn't tip its hat, misdirect, or pull an explanation out of the blue. It keeps you guessing and gives you more than that to chew on. We are successfully put in Stephanie's shoes, complete with the ample amount of Spanish dialogue going untranslated. The film's ultimate destination may not be unlike anything you've seen before, but by then you've been hooked along on a ride that you'll want to see through.

And Soon the Darkness is rated R "for some violence and brief torture." The quantifiers are appropriate, the latter thankfully. While I can't say I've seen any of the Saw or Hostel movies, I know enough about them to declare that this is not like them. Even the cover implies that torture has more of a presence than it does. And while there are a few other minor things that could warrant a mention in the MPAA's rating, for those reasonably thinking it might be, nudity is not one of them, a fact that has inspired the IMDb message board thread "NO BOOBIES = THIS MOVIE FAILS!", which seems like a bit of a rush to judgment.


Despite its title, And Soon the Darkness takes its time before providing low-light scenes. They and their nicely photographed brighter company both fare excellently in the DVD's 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The picture is clean, sharp, and appealing throughout. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is also better than average, delivering nice atmosphere, precise directionality, and crisp vocals without fail.

Odette Yustman and director Marcos Efron pose for a pic by the restaurant cow statue in the video diary. In addition to David Caruso, Karl Urban's sunglass-wearing Michael could have paid homage to "Casino" and "The Hangover" had this deleted reflection effect stayed in the movie. The girlfriends bike through scenic Argentina on the DVD's main menu montage.


Though I don't know why, Anchor Bay continues to list audio commentaries not with Special Features but on the Set Up menu. As a result, you might not notice that this disc includes a track by director Marcos Efron, editor Todd E. Miller, and cinematographer Gabriel Beristain.
Efron and Beristain do the majority of the talking and they fill the air, but their revelations are largely congratulatory and unremarkable.

A nice alternative to an ordinary making-of featurette, the "Director's Video Diary" (11:10) lets Efron talk over behind-the-scenes footage, which ranges from the technical (fights and falls) to circumstantial (a school visit revealing Amber Heard's bilingualism).

Nothing major is uncovered in the reel of Deleted Scenes (6:43), although its inessential stops do including another shot adding to the already David Caruso-like significance of Karl Urban's sunglasses.

The extras conclude with a welcome trailer for And Soon the Darkness (1:50), which, like the film, presumably won't see the inside of any American theaters.

The DVD opens with trailers for Let Me In and The Disappearance of Alice Creed. While these aren't accessible from a menu, "Also on DVD" holds a trailer for Altitude.

The DVD's main menu, its only animated one, places listings over a routine montage of clips.

Shown no less care for going basically straight to video, And Soon the Darkness is packaged with an embossed, partly glossy cardboard slipcover sliding over its Eco-Box keepcase.

Stephanie (Amber Heard) soon comes to understand the low regard Michael (Karl Urban) holds for Calvo (César Vianco), apparently the town's only police officer.


Don't let the lack of a wide theatrical release throw you; And Soon the Darkness is a well-made thriller that grips you and doesn't let go. Sure, you might have seen this kind of movie before, but quite possibly not one done as right as this. With that said, let me reiterate that the movie works largely on suspense and mystery. If you want gore and torture, keep looking.

Anchor Bay's DVD is of the same caliber of big screen fare (which this was clearly intended to be), providing a first-rate feature presentation and a decent collection of extras.

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Amber Heard: ExterminatorsThe JonesesZombieland | Karl Urban: Pathfinder (Unrated)
Odette Yustman: CloverfieldOperation: EndgameOctober Road: The Complete First SeasonLife on Mars
The Ruins (Unrated) • The UninvitedVacancyPrimevalFriday the 13th (2009)

And Soon the Darkness Songs List (in order of use): Michael Sosa and Anthony Vanacore - "Bajo Del Norte", Señor Flavio - "El Apagon", Bomba Estereo - "Feelin", Los Del Rio - "Macarena (Bayside Boys Remix)", The Divinyls - "I Touch Myself", Bomba Estereo - "La Nina Rica", Axle Whitehead - "I Don't Do Surprises", io echo - "Stalemate", Paul Clark - "La Pedrera", Angie Mattson - "Cold Soul"

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Reviewed December 12, 2010.

Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Anchor Bay Films, Studio Canal, Abandon Pictures, Sandbar Pictures, Redrum Films, and Anchor Bay Entertainment.
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