Darkness By Day – Film Review
Director: Martín De Salvo
Cast: Pablo Caramelo, Marta Lubos, Romina Paula
by Sarah Morgan
I’ve been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. My main passion is for classic British movies from the Hammer studio and their ilk, but I’ve dabbled in American and Euro output too.
But there is a big gap in my knowledge – namely the South and Central American market. I’m not going to pretend I know much about it beyond watching a few creaky Coffin Joe movies when they were broadcast on Channel 4 a few years ago, but if Darkness by Day is anything to go by, it’s an avenue well worth exploring.
Originally entitled El Dia Trajo La Oscuriad, it was released in its native Argentina back in 2013, so it’s taken a while to get here. But then, as they say, all good things come to those who wait.
The plot focuses on Virginia, a twenty-something woman who lives in a large, remote home with her father, the local doctor. To say the surrounding area is bleak is an understatement – the only landmark close by seems to be the village shop that looks as if it hasn’t been restocked since about 1976.
When her father visits her sick cousin, another relative, Ana, comes to visit, and it soon becomes clear that there’s something not quite right about her. For a start, she has a habit of leaving her room via the window late at night. She also appears to have more than just a friendly interest in Virginia. Meanwhile, Virginia is dogged by visions that may be nightmares or reality playing tricks on her…
“Full of foreboding and menace”
Chances are that horror fans accustomed to certain tropes will guess the denouement long before it actually happens. But that doesn’t stop Darkness by Day being an intriguing little chiller.
Sometimes it’s the journey that proves to be the most enthralling part of a tale rather than its destination. It’s easily as impressive as the American It Follows, which was lauded as the next great horror film on its release in 2014.
Director Martin De Salvo has received many plaudits for his work on the film – and deservedly so. He manages to create a remarkable, tension-filled atmosphere that is full of foreboding and menace. He’s assisted by a brilliant, haunting score from Jorge Chikiar.
None of the cast will be familiar to British audiences. But in some ways, that works in the production’s favour. There is no baggage attached to them, no preconceptions about who may be a hero or villain.
Darkness by Day is an inventive, low-budget film that deserves a higher profile; let’s hope this DVD release gives it that.