Coming Home In The Dark (2021)

James Ashcroft

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Starring: Daniel Gillies, Erik Thompson, Miriama McDowell, Matthias Luafutu

It all begins so innocently, as teacher Hoaggie (Erik Thompson) takes his family on a road-trip. Director James Ashcroft lets viewers into their ordinary lives, on a lengthy journey complete with bickering, singing songs, and swapping jokes, while conveyed their loving dynamic. That lovely trip becomes a distant memory when two strangers interrupt their picnic, thrusting the family into an unbearable nightmare.

Based on Owen Marshall's short story of the same name, Ashcroft co-writes with Eli Kent an unbearably tense tale born from a seemingly-random ordeal. As the strangers take the family on a long journey, there's plenty of time for gripping conversations to uncover the cause of all this. Tension's never lost as the story adapts from the initial premise across the 92-minute runtime, while capturing lovely visuals thanks to the excellent cinematography and lush New Zealand scenery.

Commanding the situation is Mandrake (Daniel Gillies), a determined drifter who channels his inner pain through violent methods, intent on toying with his prey with a set purpose. Aiding him is an associate named Tubs (Matthias Luafutu), who's swapped one prison for another by assisting in such unpleasantness. It's clear something deeply affected them both that's connected to Hoaggie, although Mandrake prefers providing hints rather than openly admit anything.

What's been crafted is a nasty film about how evil can persevere through inaction, as those staying silent have made a choice to not affect the vile status quo. Through that comes an effective message about the futility of revenge, as it warps those who take it and morphs them into the monsters they rose up against.

Coming Home In The Dark is available in US Cinemas and on VoD from October 1st