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AND SOON THE DARKNESS

AND SOON THE DARKNESS It’s never clear exactly why first time director Marcos Efron though it would be a good idea to remake And Soon the Darkness, a horror movie about two girls on a bike trip that’s probably the worst of underappreciated British director Robert Fuest’s films from the 1970s, but if you look at it as Efron's attempt to successfully fulfill every horror movie remake cliché, you could probably make a moderately fun drinking game out of it.  Efron and co-writer Jennifer Derwingson move the setting from rural France to the mountains of Argentina, a bad decision aesthetically (the quaint beauty of Fuest’s pastoral landscapes is traded in for Travel Channel showiness) and politically (the British-French cultural tensions of the original become another fable on how scary every country that isn’t America is). Athletic-sexy Amber Heard replaces awkward-cute Pamela Franklin as the final girl, and her chief virtues as an actress include wagging her upturned nose at people and ensuring that as many of her perfect white teeth as possible are showing at all times. Fuest’s original is pretty dull in its own right, but at least it ping-pongs back and forth between classic suspense filmmaking and existential spatial angst of the Antonioni variety with such a nice rhythm that you don’t mind that nothing’s really happening. Efron’s direction, with its sloppy ‘Scope compositions and fetish for aerial shots, keeps letting all the tension out of the image every time things start to perk up, and his ending scrubs out the original’s ambiguous moral implications on both the state and the bourgeois tourist for a bit of Old Testament violence without a thought in sight. (Phil Coldiron) (Sunset 5)