The year is 2024… minus 45,000. Yes, Out of Darkness, Bleecker Street’s acclaimed new film from debut director Andrew Cumming, takes place in the Stone Age with hardnosed characters speaking in a foreign dialect. But don’t let that deter you. This is terrifying stuff that becomes refreshingly relatable as the characters’ harrowing journey progresses — especially when night falls, and the group realizes maybe they’re not alone in these vast mountains.
Relationships are tested, hunger pushes them to the brink, and sanity becomes a thing of the past. You may catch shades of past classic films while tuning into Out of Darkness, and as we discovered through our recent conversation with director Cumming, that was perhaps the point. He also spoke about embracing a foreign dialect for his characters, using Sigourney Weaver’s iconic role as inspiration and his love for Killers of the Flower Moon.
Survivalist Horror ‘From a Female’s Point of View’
Out of Darkness
- Release Date
- February 9, 2024
- Andrew Cumming
- Chuku Modu , Kit Young , Iola Evans , Safia Oakley-Green
- 1hr 27min
Don’t let the survivalist nature of this horror entry fool you into thinking Out of Darkness is at all conventional. Clichéd endings are thrown to the wayside, as Cumming and his writers took an intriguing angle, as they were “interested in making a horror movie and from a female’s point of view, about female violence, violence perpetrated by and to women.” Plus, you’ll notice the lead female persona, Beyah (played to perfection by Safia Oakley-Green), and her posse of voyagers speak a language that might not be pinpointable. Says Cumming:
“Originally, we were going to do it in English because whenever we pitched the movie, people would say, ‘So they speak, right? How do they speak?’ And I’d always said I will do English because I was worried about my debut being so esoteric that nobody would want to see it. And I was worried about subtitles at that time. Game of Thrones was popular, but this is before Parasite won the Oscars. And people were a little bit suspicious about subtitles. But then, as we developed the project more, it became apparent that actually, I think this will be far more authentic and believable, and it will feel like we actually didn’t want to be the lazy director. I wanted to make sure that I was swinging the bat on my first film and didn’t cut corners… And then we had the challenge: Can you take a little bit of Basque from the region and mainland Spain? Can you take a little bit Sanskrit, maybe some Arabic and try and create a root language from those three languages?”
Speaking harsh words in said dialect, Beyah’s tour-de-force of a character might remind you of a classic heroine first introduced in Ridley Scott’s iconic sci-fi feature. “Myself, [co-writers] Ruth and Oliver, we all love Alien, particularly the first movie,” Cumming told MovieWeb.
“It was really the first time I became aware of all the tools in the filmmaker’s toolkit, all being used to such great effect and under quite a low budget for that time period… We just spoke about how the structure of that movie. You have this ensemble of really great actors, really great characters, and they’re there in their shared universe. And then the bad thing comes into that world, and how that then evolves that group, and how it changes that dynamic… A lot has been written on Ellen Ripley as a character and what she represents in cinema and feminist cinema.”
Love for Eggers and Scorsese
In addition to this strong female protagonist leading Out of Darkness, a certain supernatural film that will become timeless in years to come might also come to mind. “Around the time we were first bringing the film together was when Robert Eggers dropped The Witch,” said Cumming. “It’s very much a supernatural movie. What it did was it encouraged us to go, ‘OK, period horror, this isn’t such a foreign landscape now because this guy absolutely smashed it with this movie.’ So that was an influence just in terms of telling people, ‘You can do this, and it won’t be cheesy or silly. You can you can make a real statement that has real artistic integrity to it.'”
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On that note, we had to ask if any other throwbacks served as a sort of inspiration when Cumming was putting together this debut feature of his.
. We talked about
The Hills Have Eyes
. We talked about
, just these movies that grab you by the throat and don’t let go for 90 minutes. Those are the films that we love.”
And with the Academy Awards just around the corner, we were curious if Cumming had his eye on any one of the acclaimed films from this past year. “I was kind of surprised that Killers of the Flower Moon didn’t hit harder,” he said. “I’ve watched Scorsese movies for forever. And I feel like this is him at the absolute peak of his powers.”
From Bleecker Street, Out of Darkness is now playing in theaters. Watch the trailer below.