Horror and coming of age stories are a natural combination. The changes in both one’s body and perception of the world around them lend themselves wonderfully to the genre. Examples range from Carrie to Pan’s Labyrinth. Andres Rovira has uses it as the setting for his debut feature Between The Darkness which played the festival circuit as Come Said The Night. And it’s a good debut with a few interesting twists.
Thirteen-year-old Sprout (Nicole Moorea Sherman) lives with her father Roy (Lew Temple, The Endless, House Of Forbidden Secrets) and younger brother Percy (Tate Birchmore). Her mother and older sister Magda (Daniela Leon) are dead. On the anniversary of Magda’s passing Roy has brought the kids the “The Sanctuary”, a remote house he inherited from his parents.
On the surface, it seems to be a change for the better. Especially after something starts developing between Roy and Stella (Danielle Harris, Inoperable, Havenhurst), the local Forest Ranger. There’s even a hint on something between Sprout and her son Max (Max Page).
Sprout is convinced the family is being stalked by a monster and sets out to kill it. What she doesn’t know is the monster is a lot closer than she can imagine. And dark secrets can only be kept secret for so long.
Rovira gives Between The Darkness some interesting twists to help it stand out. While Roy has a religious fixation it’s not with Jesus, but with Zeus and the Greek pantheon of deities. Similarly, the creature Sprout sees in her sleep paralysis isn’t a demon or vampire but a gorgon. It does, however, look more like a demon or even the creature from Pumpkinhead than the snake-haired woman from mythology.
The first hour is a slow burn, so slow at times Between The Darkness is much more of a drama than a horror film. But as Sprout’s nightmares get worse and she begins having visions of her dead sister the tone shifts. Pieces begin to fall into place and doubts are raised.
Then the last act begins with a shock and moves into some very dark territory. As usual, the real monsters are human and hide in plain sight. That revelation isn’t too much of a surprise. But how we get to that point and how it plays out after holds the attention well. As long as you aren’t expecting a straight-ahead horror film you should enjoy Between The Darkness.
Dark Coast will release Between The Darkness on digital streaming platforms August 20th.