Dark Ditties Presents ‘Dad’ has finally arrived. It’s been nearly two years since the last installment of the Dark Ditties franchise and I was beginning to wonder if COVID and the perils of indie filmmaking had sent it to it’s grave. But it’s back with another feature length installment, a direct sequel to the previous one, “The Witching Hour”.
In the film’s opening moments a religious debate gets heated leading to bloodshed and the start of the zombie apocalypse on live television. This has something to do with Tyberius Krane who you’ll remember from “The Witching Hour”, and the religious movement called The Rising. Eighteen months later David Vaughan (Corin Silva, Escape Room: Tournament of Champions) is trying to keep himself and his dementia stricken father Terry (Ian Gelder, Torchwood, Game of Thrones) alive and one step ahead of the zombies.
When their car breaks down they fall in with another group of survivors, Jerry (Bruce Jones, The Full Monty, Dark Ditties Presents ‘Finders Keepers’), Steve (Neil Cole, Richard the Lionheart: Rebellion) and Keith (Simon Bamford, Hellraiser, The Haunting of Margam Castle). By chance, or by fate, the five of them find their way to the infamous Benoit Mansion which has already been turning up in David’s nightmares.
After the opener, Dark Ditties Presents ‘Dad’ spends much of the first half hour on the characters and their backstories. Whether you find their experiences heartbreaking, or boring will depend on your level of cynicism.
It’s once they reach Benoit Mansion that things get really interesting. It’s already occupied by the psychotic Reverend Alistair O’Brian (Mark Wingett, Dead Again, Doll House) and his daughter Elizabeth (Jamila Wingett, Medusa, King of Crime). And then there’s the mysterious Dr. Brunner (Michael Higgs, Avengement, Assassination Games) who may or my not be a figment of David’s imagination.
Director Adam Evans (Dark Ditties Presents ‘Finders Keepers’) and his co-writers Neil Morris (Dark Ditties Presents ‘Mrs Wiltshire’) and Gary Smart (Leviathan: The Story of Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II) have fused Night of the Living Dead’s houseful of squabbling survivors with the dark magic and religious aspects of Fulci’s zombie epics. And then adds an unexpected human element.
The result is a film that mixes emotional moments with scheming, backstabbing and general nastiness of the human variety with the supernatural. The living dead spend most of the film in the shadows, keeping the humans in Benoit Mansion where something even worse than them dwells. Dark Ditties Presents ‘Dad’ certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. It still delivers a punch, but not in the way you would think. It’s as much about tragedy as it is about terror, and it packs a raw, emotional punch that’s all the more powerful for it.
Despite being the middle film in the “Tyberius Krane” trilogy, Dark Ditties Presents ‘Dad’ is a complete story. You don’t have to have seen “The Witching Hour” to understand the plot, but having the backstory on Krane certainly doesn’t hurt either. And, based on a quick look at its IMDB page the concluding episode “Stained” has only one returning character, the enigmatic Dr. Brunner.
For those who have followed the franchise, the episode to compare Dark Ditties Presents ‘Dad’ to would be “Mrs. Wiltshire”. While there’s a bit more horror in this one it’s the same mix of emotions playing out here. For those new to it, it’s a fine, if slightly atypical starting point. And don’t tune out too quickly, there’s a scene after the fade out which delivers a solid final jump and firmly ties it in with the previous installment.
Dark Ditties Presents ‘Dad’ will be premiering at the Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival October 25-31. It will be available shortly afterwards on Amazon Prime in the US and UK. You can check the Dark Ditties Facebook page for more details.