Latest posts by Alexander P. Garza (see all)
- Review: Little Rooster’s Egg-cellent Adventure (Un Gallo Con Muchos Huevos) - October 30, 2015
- Review: Behavior (Conducta) - June 17, 2015
- Lorís Simón Salum and the Literally Short Film Festival - June 12, 2015
Más negro que la noche (Darker Than Night) (2014) is a creepy visual treat that should be watched in theaters to really take in the detail of the set. It is a remake of the 1975 cult classic horror film of the same title by Writer/Director Carlos Enrique Taboada. This version has Bernat Aragonés nominated for one Ariel award for Best Special Effects. The film is widely available thanks to the distribution resources through Pantelion, Lionsgate, and Televisa. I found the DVD and digital copy at Walmart.
The remake is adequately adapted and directed by Henry Bedwell. There are some great things about this film, but at the same time it’s seriously lacking in some areas like telling instead of showing and not utilizing the power of silence. Despite that, I think it has gotten unfair treatment in other reviews online. I will be reviewing this film and not ignore the unavoidable comparison to the original 1975 version, but also try to consider it as a film that stands on its own.
The films is about a young woman named Greta (Zuria Vega) who inherits her recently deceased aunt’s mansion, on the condition that she fulfills her aunt’s wish of taking care of her black house cat, Becker. Greta and her three other roommates move into the house and throw a lavish party. During the party, Maria (Adriana Louvier) murders Becker in order to avenge the death of her pet ferret. After the cat dies, mysterious things begin to occur in the house. Greta’s dead Aunt Ofelia seeks out revenge for the murder of her cat, and the girls make futile attempts to escape.
There is a missing dichotomy of light and dark in the 2014 movie. The girls don’t get a chance to have fun playing dress up. The house is never brightly lit in this new version to the detriment of the story. Without ever showing us how bright and cheery the characters’ experience could be in the house, it does not impact the audience nearly as much when attempts at scary moments in the dark arrive.
Along with the missing dichotomy of light and dark, there is also a missing dichotomy of sound and silence. Various scenes would have been better told in silence rather than with music or sound. Maria accompanies Vicky (Ona Casamiquela) to the bathroom and then left alone while Vicky is in the bathroom. Music begins as Maria explores the hallway and a nearby room. The music abruptly lets me know that I am now supposed to be scared. Not effective. Another example is when a ghost appears behind one of the characters and scary ghost sounds are abruptly played and completely ignored by the character on screen. Again, this was pointless and ineffective.
I need to point out the great job that Eréndira Ibarra did playing Pilar in the film. The added complexity of her being in love with Greta was a wise choice by Bedwell, but I think it was not used to its full potential. This could have been used as an additional device for Greta giving into actions and motivations that were not her own, allowing us to fully grasp the idea of her slowly becoming possessed.
In the 2014 version, a backstory is given to the dead Aunt Ofelia, and we see through flashback that Aunt Ofelia killed her fiance and mistress right before her wedding. Greta’s boyfriend, Pedro (José María Torre), is cheating on her. This is actually an interesting layer added to the story which parallels the additional backstory to Aunt Ofelia. However, Greta is not getting married like the original, so her desire for her aunt’s wedding dress is completely unfounded in this updated film. One of the things that bothered me was how Pedro repeatedly accuses Greta of having changed for the worse. But we don’t really see how she’s changed, other than her now getting frequent headaches, until the very end.
The film attempts to tell its story through the mood created by its scenery, set, and color. The film does not try to center in on the acting and that’s okay for a film like this. However, the elements in the story are all over the place, and leaves a ton of questions.
Sometimes, especially in horror movies, questions don’t need to be answered. Despite the film’s drawbacks, this film does stand on its own and is entertaining. It is worth a watch if you’re a horror movie fanatic.
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