The Darkest (2017) – Turn Out the Lights and Watch!
They say that it’s a sign of advanced intelligence if you’re able to hold two opposing ideas in your head at the same time. The cat is alive; the cat is dead: These are equal-but-opposite concepts, and, if you’re able to grok that both are simultaneously possible, your view of the universe will be doubly fulfilling and double intriguing because of this innate duality.
The Darkest – even though the title suggests an absolute – is continuously colored by duality: our protagonists also end up being our antagonists, our leading man is one person when he’s alone with his attractive fellow-teacher and another when he’s alone with his wife. In turn, his wife is one person when she’s with him, her husband of at least nine years, and quite another when she’s with her lover. This two-sided microverse is mirrored in their macroverse, and two worlds quite literally collide in a freak set of circumstances that could never happen again and that changes everyone’s life for good.
The opposite of knowing two things at once is, quite possibly, not knowing anything at all. And this, I believe, is where the “darkness” comes into things. Both husband and wife live in a world where their partner is keeping something from them: the wife is having a torrid affair, and she’s also living with a guilty secret that she’s kept for, quite literally, a lifetime, while the husband keeps his entire being shielded from everyone he comes into contact with. Quiet and surely, introspective and extremely isolated, he holds his cards close to his chest, and his state of mind is almost incomprehensible to his wife. In an attempt to mend their burning bridges, he takes her hiking in the mountains to visit his favorite cave…and that’s when the fun really starts.
The film’s darkness is not only figurative; it is also quite literal, and a fair amount of the film happens in total darkness as the couple find themselves being menaced by an at-first-unknown assailant while they camp outside their cave. Struggling to discover what is happening, they make use of what little light they can find – and it is often to be found in unexpected places – and the film becomes a light-on-dark symphony of shifting shadows. I was also a viewer who took the film’s suggestion to watch it in total darkness, and this does indeed bring you closer into the couple’s world while, at the same time, facilitating some delicious jump-scares.
The tension builds satisfactorily throughout the story as the plot twists and turns. Partly because of the visual ambiguity, you’re never quite sure who’s behind everything until fairly late in the story. In fact, right up until the point where everything is revealed, equal cases can be made for the husband and the wife being the story’s behind-the-scenes manipulator. This ability to keep the viewer guessing while they’re drawn deeper and deeper into the story is possibly the best aspect of the film.
Another aspect of the film that I really enjoyed was the depiction of the couple’s dysfunctional relationship. The scene where they’re putting on their shoes just before they leave on their hike was particularly perfect in the way it captured and exposed the distance between them…all without a word being said. I also applauded the fact that the Hollywood fairytale that “shared trauma will bring estranged partners closer together” was thrown out the window and replaced by the much-more-realistic understanding that, if a relationship is fatally fractured, it has almost no chance of being made whole again.
Technically speaking, this is not a big budget film, and it shows. Kudos must, however, be given to the filmmakers for putting their all into what could possibly be classed as a ground-breaking project: You would be hard-pressed to find another film that makes such good use of utter on-screen blackness. Colors are a bit blown-out here and there, and one sometimes gets the feeling that the entire cast and crew consisted of several actors and a hardy DP, but The Darkest is a valid, and valuable, entry into the ranks of the indie horror-thriller. In my opinion, the only really shaky aspect is the glibness of the explanation of what’s happened to the un-happy couple. I’m not going to comment further on this shortcoming here, but I do invite you to watch the film and decide for yourself.
The Darkest is in French with English subtitles. Written by Guillaume Levil and directed by Robin Entreinger, the film stars Valentin Bonhomme and Claire Suchet as the embattled couple. It runs a quick 67 minutes, but the length – or lack thereof – does not detract from the story, and, indeed, the film would not have benefitted from being longer. The Darkest can be found on Amazon and is currently free for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Fun things to do:
Read up about the experiment that is re-enacted with Gargoyle the Cat at the start of the film, and get up close and personal with Schrodinger’s Cat and quantum physics: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger%27s_cat
Step into multiple universes and find your own personal cosmic copies: steemit.com/steemstem/@mike11/the-most-strange-consequences-of-the-multi-world-interpretation
Go insane while trying to figure out if the Mandela Effect is the result of two of the multiple universes merging: mandelaeffect.com