Tuesday, October 7, 2008


On the seventh day of Halloween, my boo love gave to me ... seven direct-to-video visions of the Afterlife!


A Freddy and Jason survivor, the resurrection of Dollman, a smug Agent of Death, cleavage.

More details here.


Sweet young chickie Celia has been wrought with guilt her whole life over her mother’s death in childbirth. Raised by her grandparents, she was abandoned by her father and as she got older, her tragic sense of guilt grew. The film opens with depresso Celia’s 21st birthday, and despite a life of crappy luck, it’s time to party. Unfortunately, Celia’s terrible fortune continues when she goes to a frat bash and subsequently gets drugged, raped and murdered. What a loser.

Sexy but horribly cursed Celia finds herself trapped in the frat house and in a dimension between Heaven and Hell where she must face shadowy entities and zombie-like creatures called Soul Eaters that hunt for prey in the Afterlife. The spirit of her dead grandfather (Tim Thomerson) appears to show her the path to peaceful rest, but this familiar specter may not be what he seems. She soon learns that the Soul Eaters can manifest themselves in any shape they choose. A handsome stranger appears, claiming to be her guardian angel and promising to lead her safely to the other side. Both figures promise a way out only to be interrupted by the attacks of the Soul Eaters invading outside. But whom can she trust? Caught in an infernal limbo shrouded by deceit and illusion, Celia has to find a way out before she’s “insert movie title here”.


Sometimes, even direct-to-DVD releases can surprise you. It’s even nicer when a direct-to-Netflix-streaming-service release surprises you. Left in Darkness is a movie that, despite its lame on paper premise, actually entertains without numbing your brain with dumbness.

Monica Keena as Celia is charming and sweet, despite her shitty backstory. Keena carries the movie with her performance, and I’m surprised that she hasn’t really broken out despite a long resume of movie and TV credits. Not only is she attractive and racked to the gills, she actually cares about the material and rounds out what could have been a ninety-minute final girl screamer into an engaging outing. Without her energy and dedication to the character, I would have clocked out twenty minutes into the picture.

There are also some nice low-budge visuals in the movie. The CGI is effective but sparse, and the effects establish an atmospheric tone one might expect if caught between two incomprehensible worlds. The psyche-starved Soul Eaters are simplicity in design and enhance the feeling of impending doom that pervades the movie. Along with some good scary moments, there’s interesting chemistry between Celia and her guardian angel, David Anders (ALIAS, Heroes), despite a rather breezy script. But don’t let that dissuade you; Left in Darkness is a solid horrific treat that’s at least worth a rental, or at least ninety minutes of streaming. Compared with most of the crap going direct to video, Left in Darkness is a frigging masterpiece. And it’s still good to know that someone is still making low-budget efforts worth watching.

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