DARKEN: Before The Dark (DBTD) is the intriguing 33-minute sequel short film to the forthcoming full-length sci-fi thriller DARKEN.
The denizens of Darken are all individuals transported there after suffering severe physical and/or emotional trauma.
Once they arrive, all memories of their trauma - and their lives in the outside world - vanish. Armed with only the memory of their names, citizens of Darken discover they no longer age, feel hunger, temperature extremes, or pain.
In Darken, they are free to explore the endless labyrinthine halls and rooms that make up the realm.
However, when a new arrival named Kim (Annie Briggs) comes to Darken, cracks in this odd paradise begin to show.
Greeting Kim is Olive (Jodelle Ferland, Dark Matter), a young woman whose role is to initiate newcomers to the traditions of Darken.
Olive sees Mother Darken as a benevolent deity whose only desire is to protect her charges within her realm.
Other key citizens of Darken are soon revealed, including:
Artemis (Emmanuel Kabongo), a man mistrustful of Mother Darken’s motives
Martin (Ari Millen) who has lived in Darken the longest of anyone and now serves as the realm’s historian
Wren (Paul Amos), a true believer in Mother Darken’s teachings
Lucian (John Tench), the newest and most problematic arrival to the world of Darken
However, the most divisive of Darken’s citizens is Clarity (Christine Horne), a mercurial woman who, unlike Olive, believes Mother Darken is not a benevolent deity, but instead a god who must be feared and obeyed without question.
When a catastrophic event shakes Darken to its core, a civil war erupts between those who subscribe to Olive’s interpretation of Mother Darken’s nature and those who do not.
As a prequel, DBTD succeeds in introducing viewers to the odd and mysterious realm of Darken and its key players; it also introduces many questions that beg to be answered in a future installment.
Questions such as who or what is Mother Darken? What exactly is Darken? Is it an afterlife? A parallel dimension? A bizarre experiment?
Director Audrey Cummings has created a paradise-nightmare world with aesthetics drawn from a mish-mash of genre properties, chief among them the haunted house vibe of the Silent Hill video game franchise.
The project’s inclusive cast is what also places DBTD solidly in the “must-see” column. It is always refreshing to see the richness of humanity reflected onscreen
Dark Matter alum Jodelle Ferland heads an impressive coterie of actors from many notable Canadian sci-fi television series. These talented actors sell the promise of DARKEN with their superb portrayals of people caught up in a surreal supernatural mystery.
What this reviewer also admires about DBTD is what it says about the dangers accompanying the arrival of charismatic leaders - especially those with religious or spiritual pedigrees.
Cult of personalities form around such individuals - with blind faith in their personas and manifestos often morphing into zealotry.
The secretive Mother Darken is the fictional avatar for such leaders, and it will be interesting to see how the jihad forming among her people plays out in the feature film.
Watch DARKEN: Before The DARK prequel here…
With its eerie world brought to life by a visionary woman filmmaker and talented, inclusive cast, DARKEN: Before The Dark earns our highest recommendation.
Pre-orders for the forthcoming film continuation are available now.
Please visit DarkenProvides.com to discover how to get your copy of the feature film when it is released - along with many cool extra features.
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