CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS FOR THIS AND THE 1970 ORIGINAL
The remake bandwagon trundles merrily on. Now we're not just getting remakes of iconic genre classics such as Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday The 13th, not just bona fide nasties like I Spit On Your Grave and The Last House On The Left, but now we're getting remakes of minor British obscurities like this: a small-scale thriller from forty years ago with a script by Brian Clemens and Terry Nation. How long before someone digs up Michael Reeves' The Sorcerors or has another crack at Inseminoid or Frightmare? In truth I'd rather they remade indifferent and less well known films than much-loved classics, since the bar is lower and there's obviously more room for improvement - why aim for Suspiria when you're so obviously doomed to failure? Go remake Zoltan Hound Of Dracula instead.
The original And Soon The Darkness (which according to my lists was exhumed from the vaults for one screening at the UCI Northampton in November 2002, for some unknown but welcome reason) has two British girls on a cycling holiday around France: one of them disappears and may be the victim of the local maniac. In this remake they're American girls cycling through Argentina: Amber Heard (also a co-producer) and Odette Yustman. Yustman disappears at a remote beauty spot where they've been sunbathing, and Heard tries to find her, but the local police are ineffective and none of the locals want to help, even though several other girls have vanished in the area. Maybe Karl Urban, local humanitarian looking for his own missing girlfriend, is responsible? The sinister gardener at the hotel, who obviously knows something? Or the charmless local lout who tries to pick the two girls up in a bar?
While the first version dealt with a basic homicidal maniac, this one has an extra act as the girls fall into the clutches of white slavers trading girls across the border to the Paraguay pervert market. Unlikely? I wouldn't know what basis such a plot would have in reality, but it doesn't seem to ring true. Nevertheless, it gives an opportunity for the villains to be sadistic and beastly to helpless young lovelies, and for Amber Heard to do the Final Girl routine in the last reel, though not nearly spectacularly enough for a crowd-pleasing popcorn exploitationer: the film pretty much does the job it sets out to, but it doesn't do anything that interesting with the material. The result is a functional thriller, beautifully shot (it looks great on BluRay), but it takes too long to get going and ultimately it is a bit of a letdown, and while the original is scarcely a classic this new version still doesn't measure up. Pity
Incidentally, the film is supposed to be in 2.35 scope (according to the IMDb and DVDCompare) but the British release is in full-frame widescreen. This is the second film I've had in the last week where they've messed up the ratio. Get it right.
And it's here: