Taking what has become the standard for easy to make, cheap, effective micro budget horror films, Enter the Dark is one of many entries into the horror genre by filmmakers who have collectively discovered the great potential with what The Blair Witch Project did back in 1999. Now, 1999 is a long time ago in retrospect, and yet, since that time, the handheld genre has done no less than grow exponentially. Be it with meager short films such as Enter the Dark, new takes on the zombie and exorcism genres with REC and, the more recent, The Last Exorcism, or the big budget attempts by studios with the likes of Cloverfield, the handheld verite style has proven it has immense staying power. A staying power that is only impacted greater with something like Paranormal Activity coming along and makes a major splash, spawns a successful Hollywood sequel, thus only furthering the influence on the future filmmakers of the world.
One of the most common angles of this genre, specifically for the ones of little to no budget, is the haunted house – or, trapped in a house for whatever reason - story. I really don't need to dwell on why that is because it's not difficult to figure out why, but what is more important is how. As in, how well can one do with limited means, time and support. Enter the Dark takes a simplistic idea, a man that has been plagued by a haunting in his home and has enlisted his skeptical friend to help him find some proof so he can hopefully figure out a way to stop it. It's as basic as you can get, but what writer/director/producer/editor/pole dancer Todd Miró does with this film is what gives it the right legs to show that this style of cinema will be viable for quite some time. So long as there's talent involved, naturally.
Coming in at just over 17-minutes, Enter the Dark jumps right in with its two characters, Charles and Rob (played respectfully by, Charles Yoakum and Rob Sandusky), who are instantly relatable. Their well-crafted dialogue is sufficient to what you would hear from real life, middle-aged friends, with little jokes and ribbings that come flowing as if these characters have known each other for years. The rapport between both Charles and Bob is a great way to keep a typical horror situation interesting but, more importantly, it also sets things up in a light way so that when the scares do happen, they are better apt to catch the viewer off guard. It's the distract you with this hand, while giving you the gut punch with the other, technique.
On a technical level, Enter the Dark looks quite good and that might be where it actually stands out the most. Both characters spend much of their time in complete darkness, with only the light from a flashlight and camcorder to guide them through the hallways and bedrooms of the house. With that limited source of light comes plenty of engulfing darkness, and the blacks are as sharp as a Hanzo blade. There is little to no grain and the intense contrasting light-to-dark only seems to mirror the promise made by the film's title. While a few of the more ghostly sounds used are a bit hokey (save for the very creepy use of a certain children's toy), the overall sound design is strong and handled in a way where it is often difficult to make out exactly what you are hearing.
In many ways, Enter the Dark reminded me of an 80's anthology television show, not unlike Tales From the Darkside, or Monsters, for example. It's that basic formula of early character development, then a few odd occurrences happen to create tension, and lastly, the finale hits with a twist that is jump worthy and satisfying, in a slightly silly way. It's quick, fun and a bit spooky and, as promised, watching Enter the Dark in the dark makes it all the more effective.
If you too would like to Enter the Dark (oh yeah, I said it), you can head-on over to IndieFlix to check out the film by either purchasing a 30-day stream for $1.95, or picking up the DVD for $5.95. You can also check out the film's official website for more info and behind the scenes shenanigans.