In Palace Cinemas from today (September 9th)
(Reviewed by John Glennie)
A New Zealand drama about a family holiday that turns into a nightmare! Based on a short story written by award-winning New Zealand author Owen Marshall, Coming Home in the Dark’s screenplay was adapted by James Ashcroft and his long-time collaborator, writer Eli Kent (Millie Lies Low). As both director and executive producer, the film is James Ashcroft’s feature film directorial debut.
The first 10 minutes or so starts innocently enough with a family of four driving through the beautiful countryside of NZ with the usual hassles of parents trying to keep two teenage kids entertained. They reach their destination at a lovely isolated lake in the mountains and are relaxing when a couple of sinister couple of guys wander up and make casual conversation – though with menacing overtones.
Within minutes, their holiday adventure takes a very nasty turn. – the parents Hoaggie (Erik Thomson “Packed To The Rafter”, “800 Words”) and Jill (Miriama McDowell “Find Me A Maori Bride”) tell the intruders to take everything: car, money, phones and leave them alone. However the drifters, Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) and Tubs, take them captive for a joyride.
It appears to be fate that brought Hoaggie and the captors together – he is a teacher who did some of his early training in a facility where Mandrake and Tubs spent their childhood. There is constant suspense as the couple are driven throughout the night with their potential fate looking grim. Escape attempts seem to be futile but they are prepared to try anything.
I probably can’t say too much more without giving away too much of the story. This is a gripping NZ movie that definitely warrants a visit to the cinema! My only disappointment was that not enough of the movie was set in daylight hours so we could enjoy more of the stunning scenery – but I expect that would detract from the “dark” theme of the story!
I found the ending leaving me with more questions than answers. I was still unsure of Jill’s fate and, to a lesser extent, the other key characters.