Fantasy as a genre has never enjoyed the success that horror and science fiction have in the movies. This is undoubtedly due in large part to the cost of properly filming it. Done on a low budget it tends to look either really cheap and tacky or like somebody brought a camera to a LARP. There are exceptions of course but for every BEASTMASTER or THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER, there’s a dozen like THE BLADE MASTER. Now Audrey Cummings (TORMENTED, SHE NEVER DIED) tries her hand at it with some fairly impressive results.
All is not well in the world of Darken. Mother Darken, the entity that holds the world together hasn’t been seen in ages and factions fight for control in her absence. A chance encounter with an exiled and dying warrior propels Eve (Bea Santos DARKER THAN NIGHT) from our world to Darken where she must fight not only for her life but the very existence of her new home.
Wisely DARKEN never tries to get epic, it doesn’t have the budget and knows it. The world of Darken itself is all interiors, like some industrial maze or prison. It doesn’t try to recreate castles and temples on a lunch-money budget. The dark, cramped setting adds a degree of claustrophobia and tension. And by keeping the factions small and avoiding cheesy attempts at epic battles in favor of small, well-choreographed clashes between small groups.
The plot itself is fairly different with the twists, turns and places it goes. While some of its ideas could certainly use fleshing out it’s still unusual and interesting enough to hold your interest and builds to a finish that for once deserves its open ending.
Produced by Shaftesbury Productions, better known for tv work and web series, DARKEN has an eleven episode web series to precede the movie and explain the background to the world and its inhabitants.
Playing as part of Toronto’s Blood in the Snow festival, DARKEN is a fun and enjoyable low budget take on dark, horror-tinged fantasy.