Movie Review: Coming Home in the Dark (2021)

Coming Home in the Dark (2021) - IMDb

Title: Coming Home in the Dark

Director: James Ashcroft

Actor(s): Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomsen

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Runtime: 1 hour 33 minutes

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No

This bleak, vicious little film definitely had some things some things going for it but ultimately not enough for me to recommend it. The main character, Hoagie (Erik Thomsen) is a middle-aged husband and father whose family is targeted by two maniacs during an isolated picnic. The leader of the two men (Daniel Gillies) recognizes Hoagie and is hell-bent on making him pay for events that happened in his childhood.

It’s a storyline we’ve all seen before (a nice clean-cut family on a trip are terrorized by deranged psychopaths) but the question of the father’s culpability makes it feel a little fresher than your average hack-and-slash fare. It touches on themes of on whether being a bystander gives you a moral advantage over people who do horrible things. The acting is also very good, especially Miriama McDowell as Hoagie’s wife Jill. Her screams of pain and suffering broke my heart, and Daniel Gillies as ‘Mandrake’ is also a chilling and dynamic villain with a sick sense of humor.

However, the storyline of the film really drags (it probably would have been better suited as a short film, because the whole plot probably could have been covered in thirty minutes.) As is the case with most of these kinds of movies, the main characters are poorly developed, and the screenwriters don’t go the extra mile with really making you care about them.

Their situation is obviously terrible (and there are children involved) but I didn’t really feel like I knew them all that well, instead fitting comfortably into the role of ‘family in peril.’ If it had had a kickass ending, I might have recommended it, but the conclusion just made me go ‘huh?’ It just felt like it kind of ended and I was left with tons of questions and felt a little bit cheated.

Other than a certain violent event that occurs at the beginning that I didn’t expect would happen until MUCH later (if you see the film you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, but it was really jarring) most of what happens in this movie is pretty predictable. There’s a lot of scenes where the camera just focuses on the road while they drive and discordant music plays, and I found myself wishing the pacing was less disappointing. This isn’t a bad movie and the actors do an excellent job with the somewhat thin material they’re given. It just wasn’t anything particularly unique within the genre (despite certain plot elements that had a lot of potential.)


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