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DARK CIRCLES
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Paul Soter

Starring:
Johnathon Schaech
Pell James
Jennifer Foreman

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Alex and Penny are sick of the hectic city life and decide a move out to the country to raise their newborn child. But what they don't expect is the evil ghost of a girl who decides they want to snap up that child.
Is it good movie?
It isn't breaking any new ground, but the last "dark" movie I reviewed was Dark Skies and I'm happy to report that this is far more enjoyable than that particular film. To start off, director Paul Soter has written some intelligent characters in our central couple, played by Pell James and Johnathon Schaech who actually care about one another and don't have the personalities of a cardboard box. I know that some people don't always want to get invested in their characters, but this one worked pretty well. Can't always want them to just get shredded.

Another thing to credit Dark Circles is that the flick actually takes its time without dragging along and manages to be a good, slow burn. As someone who knows a lot of new parents, there's enough horror in watching this young couple come to terms with their new baby, as their individuality slips away while they go through this transition period in their lives. There's a big focus placed on the baby in this flick, which many folks can relate to, coupled with a natural sense of inadequacy that comes with having a newborn. If you want to cut my head off, I can live with that. If you want to take after the hair on my infant son's head? Well, then we're going to a new level of protective instincts. And trust me, this baby really comes close to some nasty, horrifying situations.

For some, just watching these people trying to sleep while the baby is screeching away may be scary enough. These poor people have to start wondering if they're going insane from lack of sleep, or if there's a truly malevolent force at work. Things start going beyond the hallucination point, but the viewer is kept guessing. This is all done with a great visual panache, which can lead to some really memorable moments. Kudos to director Soter for his innovative camera work which truly captures the horror.

Take it as you will, whether you see it as a ghost story, or perhaps a parental fable, the movie works on a couple different levels. Sure, it's pretty straightforward and not exactly a gorefest (though there are some decently nasty moments, especially near the start), but I was invested in the characters and thought there were a good few creepy, scary moments. Smart directing, well-written characters and a decent premise- I'm down!
Video / Audio
Video: 2.40:1 widescreen, looks decent, nothing overly special but totally passable.

Audio is presented in Dolby 5.1, and is mixed well, though the surround track tends to be a bit front-heavy.
The Extras
There's a behind the scenes featurette that runs about 7 minutes and features interviews with the cast and crew. Lots of funny moments with the cast as they say "I saw Paul Soter's name, so I figured it was a funny movie" (Paul Soter is a member of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, the gang that gave us Super Troopers). Quality stuff. And we learn he's making more, with one written and one in treatment mode! Let's hope they happen.

Soter also provides a quality commentary track with actor Johnathon Schaech and blogger Ryan Turek.  He's intelligent, soft spoken, and loaded with great information and keeps the whole thing on track. Really interesting listen.

Also you'll notice a few trailers for Husk, Prowl, An American Haunting, and promotional footage for FearNet and Epix.
Last Call
Dark Circles is a flat out well-made independent horror flick. It's scary, well acted, and clearly made with love. Recommended!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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