“Since the Stone Age” is a common expression one might use when describing how long they’ve been doing something. “They’ve been working together since the Stone Age,” for example. However, a new movie hitting the masses this week quite literally takes place during this era, with its early humans banding together to protect themselves against some sort of evil entity. In a world where Parasite (2019) wins Best Picture, cinephiles shouldn’t be deterred if they have to rely on subtitles for their next viewing experience. The characters in Out of Darkness speak a foreign dialect that sounds like a combination of several known languages, but don’t let the language barrier fool you — the new film by Andrew Cumming is rich with modern-day themes about humanity’s place in this world.
“We’ve Been Trapped”
Out of Darkness
- Release Date
- February 9, 2024
- Andrew Cumming
- Chuku Modu , Kit Young , Iola Evans , Safia Oakley-Green
- 1hr 27min
- Creative visuals
- Impressive genre blending
- Gruesome horror
- Can be hard to connect with the characters at first
Don’t let the promotional trailer fool you — this isn’t some conventional thriller about our ancestors fighting off evil spirits while out seeking new land. Sure, there’s some of that, particularly in the first act, but Out of Darkness becomes much more. Yes, we’re in the Stone Age, but the story kicks off with a bang, even creating a sort of fourth-wall-breaking effect with the opening bonfire sequence. The first line we hear is, “Tell me a story,” followed by a debate among the small community as to what constitutes a worthy tale to recite over the flames of a roaring campfire.
On that note, we can quickly gather that director Andrew Cumming — in his feature directorial debut — is offering a visually arresting project. Not just the slightly desaturated color palette evoking eerie vibes galore, but also with the surprisingly mobile camera (whip pans that would make Scorsese and PTA proud included), as well as a haunting musical score.
These neat little components of Out of Darkness really become apparent when the plot kicks into high gear. Soon-to-be father Adem (Chuku Modu) leads the gang, which includes his very pregnant companion Ave (Iola Evans), in a search for more from the world. However, there appears to be a clash of leaders, as Adem butts heads with the more cautious Geirr (Kit Young) and the fiery Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green, a star-making role for an actress who clearly has a bright future ahead of her). There is also the more senior Odal (Arno Lüning) who appears to be stuck in his old ways in spite of the ever-changing world around him.
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What Genre Is It, Anyway?
So what exactly happens? What’s the big deal? Well, one of them is taken, presumably by some sort of supernatural, barbaric entity that sends the rest of them out on the search of all searches. It doesn’t exactly go well, especially when night descends on their manhunt. “We’ve been trapped,” one of them explains, as eerie noises surround them, from unseen creatures. Humans, perhaps?
No spoilers here, but Out of Darkness completely embodies the horror genre in moments like this. Another one of them is taken and attacked, and the gnarly sight of him when he’s found might just make you shield your eyes — although all of Hollywood’s working makeup artists might want to tune in to appreciate the sight here. Another gruesome moment comes later when the group runs out of food and has to take dire measures to prevent them from starving to death in this new mountainous terrain they’re not familiar with.
So yes, when it comes to genre, Out of Darkness rather seamlessly goes from historical fiction to horror… and then on to psychological thriller by the end. We even get some moments of science fiction when the sky turns green during one of the nights the remaining community members are camping out and contemplating their not-so-promising future on this planet of ours. They can’t continue on because of this unseen entity. Odal wants to use one of the blood of one of their injured to attract the beast. Beyah goes on a warpath, and it’s here that we catch similar vibes as Hulu’s hit film Prey, the prequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic film Predator.
By the end, once more identities are revealed, you might just be left scratching your head and wondering, “Who is the real monster here?” Sure, this is the Stone Age, but we can certainly see parts of ourselves in these barbaric yet humane characters. At first, the average viewer might be apprehensive at the idea of being able to connect with the folks on-screen. But stick with it — this is the ultimate post-modern Stone Age film that will surely be discussed by film buffs down the line.
From Bleecker Street, Out of Darkness is now playing in theaters.
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