Spoiler-Free Film Review: “Out of Darkness” 

out of darkness

February 20, 2024

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at josephperry@gmail.com. He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Director Andrew Cumming’s U.K. feature Out of Darkness  (originally titled The Origin) is a magnificent-looking slice of survival horror set in the Stone Age, complete with a language devised just for the film (with English subtitles provided). There’s no denying the power of the majority of the film, but its climax and aftermath will surely leave audiences divided.

Adem (Chuku Modu) is the leader of a small group of prehistoric people who have been wandering in search of a safe place to live that provides abundant food. The group — which also includes Adem’s young son Heron (Luna Mwezi), Adem’s pregnant mate Ave (Iola Evans) and his brother Geirr (Kit Young), elderly Odal (Arno Luering), and stray Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green) — is near starving, and some are beginning to doubt Adem’s ability to lead.

One night, a mysterious, as-yet-unseen presence grabs Heron, and Adem becomes solely focused on finding his son, though the others feel that leading them into the dark forest means certain death. Talk of demons begins, as does the possibility of cannibalism for survival. I’ll leave the plot synopsis there to avoid spoiling the chilling events that lie ahead for the group members.

Oakley-Green’s performance is terrific. Her character Beyah knows well that she is least important to the group, and is only there to be used as the others see fit. Beyah is resourceful to the point of taking the lead where others are reluctant to act. Oakley-Green invests her character with top-notch emotional and physical performances, leading a fine ensemble cast. 

Out of Darkness

The Scottish landscapes in which Out of Darkness was shot make for a perfect setting. Cinematographer Ben Fordesman takes full advantage of this beautifully bleak natural setting, providing gorgeous visuals.

Cumming, directing from a screenplay from Ruth Greenberg — with Cumming and Oliver Kassman receiving story credits —  does a masterful job at the helm, showing equal skill at getting the most out of the dramatic dynamics within the group and the horror and suspense elements.

The only quibble I have with Out of Darkness is that the ending delivers a message — an important one, to be sure, and I won’t reveal it here to keep things spoiler-free — that feels somewhat out of place and a little forced, or at least quite suddenly inserted, even shoehorned in. I feel that this will be considered quite divisive among viewers.

Wondrous to look at, thrilling to watch, and boasting memorable direction, cinematography, and performances, Out of Darkness is a unique fear-fare outing that comes strongly recommended.

Out of Darkness, from Bleecker Street, is currently playing in cinemas nationwide in the United States.


Out of Darkness movie

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