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Coming Home in the Dark (2021)

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8/10: Intriguing plot and even more intriguing developments about accountability, guilt and maybe revenge. Secrets come out during a long car ride
Saturday, April 24, 2021

Saw this at the Imagine filmfestival, usually in Amsterdam but now 100% online. What can possibly happen to a family that is more dreadful than what we saw in A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick 1971) or Funny Games (Haneke 2017)?? This movie seems to follow a similar path, at first sight, but there are important differences. The killing of the two kids at an early stage, allows this movie a headstart in dreadfulness. It also leaves no doubts from the outset about the drastic intentions of the armed drifters who take the couple on a long car ride to an uncertain destination. Anything can happen underway or at the endpoint.After half an hour, the resemblance with the two movies from 1971 and 2017 disappears. We learn that the two perpretators have some axes to grind, dating back some 20 years. They are not harassing them as random targets. It makes a great difference, so aforementioned two movies are no candidates...

9/10: Entertaining, bold, shocking and complex - a gem
Friday, August 13, 2021

I haven't always been the biggest fan of New Zealand films in the past. So I went into 'Coming Home in the Dark' a little guarded. By about the 20 minute mark in the film though I knew I was in for an absolute treat. There is a truly shocking scene early in this film that sets the tone for the entire premise. It tells us that nothing is off limits and nothing goes without saying from here on out. This is a seriously good film.The best villains are always the ones you can sympathise with. You don't have to side with them or agree with them in any way, you just have to understand where they're coming from. 'Coming Home in the Dark' has two of the more expertly crafted villains I can remember seeing in a film in a long time. At first there's a bit of a 'Funny Games' feel about them...

6/10: A lot of potential
Wednesday, August 18, 2021

This film is one of those that is frustrating because it is so close to being great but it just can't get there. The majority of the performances are excellent, the cinematography is beautiful, the concept is intriguing, the biggest let down is the plot.Whilst I have no issue with a slow burn plot, the issue I have with this film is the repetitive scenes that take place and cause the progression of the story to be unnecessarily slow. Basically there are 5 different instances in the film were a character attempts to escape from the two captors. Granted some of these scenes are shorter than others but as you can imagine, the failed escapes get rather dull fairly quickly.I would have rather had scenes of plot progression, better dialogue scenes or more flashbacks examining the core point of the film. I think if less screen time had been spent on people running through forests or down...

4/10: Tale of retaliation. That is not very well thought-out
Tuesday, October 5, 2021

I suppose the main theme is that revenge is too often blinding and unhoned to the point of taking out innocent people. And dig two graves...blah blah blah. But that is hardly a reason to make a supposedly serious movie with so many half-conceived main characters.Are we meant to have any sympathy for Tubs and Mandrake as to care about the force driving them and the plot when they appear to be simple killing machines with no sense of vengeful focus?Because if this body count is what happens when it's just a guy who knew about (but didn't report) the horrors they suffered - as is implied, did they wipe out the towns and every living relative of the people who actually did the evil deeds that created them? (You know the unfortunately pretentious Frankenstein reference that is entirely out of context.)There is danger in making the motivations of killers haphazardly known as this...

5/10: Fell flat, too much unbelievable behavior
Monday, October 11, 2021

Starts off well enough, and in a very Haneke-esque early "twist" things get serious quickly. Well, it was a bit too much like "Funny Games" in the setup for me, so it already was lacking some originality.The acting is good, but the script just wasn't believable. Sure, I get that there was some major abuse of boys at these old camps/schools for wayward or orphaned youths, but the level of both the revenge motive and the violence that one of the main characters is willing to engage in was completely unrealistic and I couldn't suspend my disbelief any longer after a certain reveal. It just got stupid at that point. That kind of person would be in a prison for other serious crimes and not roaming the countryside much less by some miraculous chance running into one of the former teachers aides who wasn't directly involved in his trauma to begin with. Meh, sorry...

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