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'Dark Was the Night' gets lost chasing thrills

 'Dark Was the Night' gets lost chasing thrills
A scene from "Dark Was the Night." (Handout)

In "Dark Was the Night," an ancient two-legged creature has descended on and left three miles of what resemble hoof prints over the fictitious small town of Maiden Woods, apparently as the result of deforestation. Local animals have been either acting strangely or vanishing without a trace.

On the scene are Sheriff Paul Shields (Kevin Durand), who's grieving the accidental death of a young son and dreading a divorce, and his deputy, Donny Saunders (Lukas Haas), a newcomer with a drinking habit. It's not spoiling anything to say that these backstories ultimately amount to absolutely nil.

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FULL COVERAGE: Movie reviews

Earl (Nick Damici) the barkeep, who's part Shawnee, fills Donny in on the tales that his people have passed down for generations: carcasses of animals and humans were found up in trees when the spirits came after white settlers who didn't respect the land. This part has the most dramatic potential had writer Tyler Hisel expounded on it as Larry Fessenden did with "Wendigo," instead of leaving it as a well-worn cliché that unfairly marginalizes Native Americans.

The script, the special effects and Jack Heller's direction simply don't add up in the profile of the mythical creature. It's quite obvious the filmmakers didn't put a lot of thought into it and went straight for the cheapest thrills.

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"Dark Was the Night"

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Playing: At AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19. Also on VOD.

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