Out of Darkness

45,000 years ago, the eldest of a group, Odal (Arno Lüning), told its youngest, Heron (Luna Mwezi), about the test a man faced, crossing a vast sea to find a land teeming with animals to hunt, a place where his children would flourish and his elders find peace.  We quickly learn Odal’s tale is laced with sarcasm, as Adem (Chuku Modu, "Captain Marvel") has just led them to this hoped for place only for them all to have to face a demonic force and struggle “Out of Darkness.”

Laura's Review: C+

Cowriter (with Ruth Greenberg)/director Andrew Cumming makes his feature debut with a feminist spin on a story that’s been told before, but is distinguished by its fine production.  Shot on location in the western Scottish highlands, cinematographer Ben Fordesman ("Saint Maud") delivers striking imagery even in darkness, fire illuminating characters while horrors can only be heard, effects artists creating realistic gore slicks for daytime revelation.  The filmmakers even had an ‘origin language’ created for their Paleolithic people to speak while composer Adam Janota Bzowski (“Saint Maud”) utilized bones for flutes and percussion.  Costumes seem far too sophisticated for the time period, but press notes assure that designer Michael O’Connor, a three time Oscar nominee and winner for “The Duchess,” did extensive research which revealed tailoring was present in the time period.

Adem has a very pregnant wife, Ave (Iola Evans), and younger brother Geirr (Kit Young, "The School for Good and Evil"), who has vowed to protect Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green), the sixth member of the group, and much of the drama is derived from how their relationship dynamics play out.  As the group battles harsh conditions and hunger in a bleak landscape, the loss of one of their own is blamed on Beyah being ‘in heat,’ Adem declaring her condition has drawn the unseen monster to them.

“Out of Darkness” takes its time getting to a climax many will have foreseen, but its craftsmanship almost makes the journey worthwhile.       

Robin's Review: C

45000 years ago, a small group of hunter/gatherers must leave their hostile abode to find a new, more hospitable home. When one of their scant numbers becomes missing, they realize that something wicked is stalking the tribe “Out of Darkness.”

Setting this survival drama of 40.5 millennia ago seems like an original idea but, as I watched “Out of Darkness” I was struck how unoriginal and indulgent the whole work, by Andrew Dummings, actually is. First off, the multiracial cast of characters just does not make sense for 45K years ago before there actually was “race.”

Then, the perfect coiffing of hair (with mullets), the flawless skin and the designer fur wardrobe (apparently with fitted fur jeans) distracted me from the actual story, which I have seen many times before.

Things kick starts with a mysterious intruder picking away at the tiny tribe. But, beware, all is not what it seems as the characters say one thing and do another as fake outs mount. Creativity is apparent but originality is not.

The makers invented a language for our “tribe” and it is pretty sophisticated for a bunch of cavemen (and women) who have yet to evolve, never mind developing perfect diction and a huge vocabulary. It is this kind of filmmaking indulgence that totally takes me out of the moment as a routine “monster movie” kicks in. At a scant 87 minutes, it felt way too long.

To give credit where credit is due, the technical aspects of “Out of Darkness,” like camera work, lighting and sound, are solid and help make this overlong parable acceptable.

Bleecker Street releases "Out of Darkness" in theaters on 2/9/24.