The opening moments of Out Of The Shadows are among its best. The first scene, a tracking shot through a murder scene with grievously damaged bodies, an upset detective and an unsettling atmosphere set by the colour grade and sound, promises a clever indie horror that for the most part, the film fails to deliver.
When detective Eric (Blake Northfield) and his expecting partner Katrina (Kendal Rae) move into a dilapidated rural home, strange things begin to happen. To the disbelief of those around her, Katrina begins to see shadow beings that she believes are after her unborn child.
Eric continues to investigate a grisly murder, clashing heads with accused murderer Charles Winter (Jake Ryan) while Katrina is diagnosed with psychosis for her ghostly visions. When things in the house begin to turn sinister, Eric and Katrina recruit the help of the clergy and seek out the malevolent presence within their home.
After a major investor had pulled from the project at the last minute, Out Of The Shadows was nearly another film in the graveyard of Australian ‘almosts’. It was the perseverance of the production team that allowed the film to reach any audiences at all, and for that alone the film becomes a statistic for the good side of Australian films, and an achievement to all of the team responsible.
Out of the Shadows however, does not score equally well on an originality criteria, sticking tightly to a haunted house narrative that’s been the locust to the horror genre over the past decade. The story fails to offer almost anything new, aside from the location. The Tweed Hinterland is done justice through its capture from above, and the return of the cane fields (if only briefly) is a nice reminder to the genre’s history of demonising innocuous locations.
In the early stages of the film, tracking shots establish tension and uncertainty in these surroundings, instilling a pervasive sense of trepidation. But for whatever reason, these shots disappear in the film’s second act. And as the tension disappears so does much of the fear. So however well crafted the supernatural occurrences are, they begin to feel dull and uninspired.
With high expectations from a Peter Weir collaborator, the score from Christopher Gordon does not fulfil the hype. Suspenseful moments formed by director Dee McLachlan are breached by the oddly timed score, and the mostly solid performances given by Blake Northfield and Kendal Rae seem interrupted by the streamlined background tracks.
Out of the Shadows is the result of production perseverance, and has some great moments, weighed down only by the clichés of the second act, but otherwise shows promise for the young cast involved. It may take comparisons to Rosemary’s Baby or the films of James Wan, and for the first half these praises are deserved. It’s the other half where Out of The Shadows loses sight of what it could have been.
Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Out of the Shadows is coming to Australian cinemas nationwide in 2017. It was reviewed at the Gold Coast Film Festival.