Independent horror films are known for their ability to experiment and subvert the norm, but sometimes this approach can backfire. Patrick Rea’s “They Wait in the Dark” is one such film. Despite a promising poster, the film is lacking in horror and instead offers a flimsy examination of a broken family system that is frustrating to watch.
The story follows Amy and her adopted son Adrian as they try to evade Amy’s ex-partner Judith. With the help of a friend, they hide out in an old family farmhouse, but soon strange things start happening, and Adrian begins seeing and hearing things that others can’t. Meanwhile, Judith is hot on their trail, and Amy’s character struggles to deal with her agitated son and past issues.
The concept of conflict from outside and within might have worked in another film, but here it falls flat. Rea tries to add horror elements but only succeeds in creating an awkward combination of two sub-genres that usually don’t mix. The serious topic of domestic abuse combined with spooky shenanigans makes for a tough combo to pull off, and the film never quite manages to mesh the two genres.
The acting is also subpar, with McGuire overacting to the point of fatigue, and the dialogue adding to the overall detriment of the film. While there are a few enticing scenes thanks to the lighting department, the film’s runtime feels like a endurance gauntlet, and the big scary showdown doesn’t unfold until the last ten minutes.
The film’s major drawback is that it’s just plain boring. It’s an 84-minute”give it a chance, feeling” where the viewer waits every ten minutes for something of interest to happen. The only credit that can be given is to the cinematography department, who create a few visually satisfying scenes.
While the two halves of the film might work okay on their own, they don’t mesh until the end, and even then, they pose more questions than they answer. The movie’s commitment to two twists, one of which is heavily foreshadowed and works reasonably well, while the other comes out of nowhere, only adds to the confusion. The performances feel all over the place in terms of their tone, with some scenes feeling like awkward speed-dating encounters rather than heartfelt conversations.
“They Wait in the Dark” is a failed attempt to combine a family drama and a horror movie. The film’s attempt to subvert expectations falls flat, and the viewer is left with a boring, frustrating experience. The film’s disjointed plot and subpar acting make it hard to recommend to anyone other than die-hard fans of the horror genre who are willing to give anything a chance.