When I first heard the title A Dark Path I was hoping it might be related to the criminally underrated A Dark Song. No such luck, it’s the new film from Nicholas Winter the writer and director of Bone Breaker. If nothing else this has to be better than that was, right?
Abi (Makenna Guyler, The Barge People, Blood Bags) and Lilly (Mari Beaseley, Robin Hood: The Rebellion) are somewhere in Eastern Europe attending a Hen Party (Bachelorette Party for those not from the UK). On their way back their GPS and their phone lose signal. They try to navigate the old-fashioned way and end up in the middle of the woods.
Of course, once there they get a flat tire. And, this being a horror film, the spare is flat as well. So they wait for somebody to come by. But that’s not likely to happen. The locals avoid this forest, and with good reason.
One lesson Winter learned from Bone Breaker was to set the film at night. Dark woods are much scarier than sunny ones, and A Well Lit Path doesn’t sound too scary. Unfortunately in this case a dark path isn’t very scary either. Much of the film is simply the two leads wandering around in the woods. Then Lilly wanders off on her own and doesn’t come back. So Abi wanders around looking for her. We’re forty minutes into a seventy-minute long film before anything else happens. Once Abi encounters the badly injured Hannah (Thomasin Lockwood) you think things might pick up. And if hearing scary noises counts, they do.
What about the creature? The film is in its last few minutes when it shows up. Played by Ade Dimberline (Edge of Extinction) it’s kept in the shadows and shown as little as possible.
And that’s it. A Dark Path is basically an hour of people puking at a party, bickering and wandering around dark woods. Then ten minutes with a barely seen creature. When we finally get a look at it it’s fairly decent looking, at least by low budget standards. So why Winter didn’t get it involved sooner is beyond me. He couldn’t have really thought all that wandering around was scarier, could he? Or maybe he thought sending up found footage films by filming some scenes through a camcorder was so entertaining they didn’t need the monster.
A film that I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t trying to review it actually sitting through, A Dark Path is available in the UK from Reel2Reel. 101 Films will release it in the rest of the world on September 15th.