'And Soon the Darkness'
(Amber Heard, Odette Yustman, Karl Urban, Gia Mantegna, Adriana Barraza, et al / DVD / R / 2010 / Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Overview: Stephanie (Amber Heard) and Ellie’s (Odette Yustman) vacation to an exotic village in Argentina is a perfect ‘girl’s getaway’ to bask in the sun, shop and flirt with the handsome locals. After a long night of bar-hopping, the girls get into an argument, and Stephanie heads out alone in the morning to cool off. But when she returns, Ellie has disappeared.
DVD Verdict: I have not seen the original but it seems to be in big favor with many viewers. And as Hollywood figured to re-make it, it must have been good. Unfortunately, the re-make isn't really all that hot.
In a nutshell: Two girls are on a biking excursion in Argentina. A minor argument ensues one day and the two take a few hours off from each others' company. Problem is that one of them disappears and may be another victim in a spate of local kidnappings. The other hooks up with an American who happens to be staying at the same hotel and the two set to see what they can see.
From what I understand of the original, which was set in the French countryside, it's power derived from it's ability to take a serene countryside setting, in broad daylight, and infuse it with a sense of menace. In this version, most of the shots of the countryside look really beautiful and actually provide a respite from the uneasiness caused by the fact that you have two young girls, traveling alone in, what we consider, a third world country, working under a language barrier.
This movie is so-so. For my dollar it took way too long to get to the heart of the matter. My guess is it's a good 45 minutes before the actual kidnapping occurs. And when it finally does occur the attempts at finding our victim are rather tepid. As a matter of fact, the break comes due to happenstance and not to any clever detective work. Another problem is that some of the promo copy intones that Karl Urban's character might not be the good guy he appears to be. If this is so, it is also handled poorly. Whatever questions the viewer might have about his motives are swept away rather quickly.
Then there are the two female leads. The performances are not particularly great. And seeing Amber Heard's Stephanie get the jump on her friend's two captors did little to convince me she could or would do it. I simply didn't believe it and that is a problem at the script level.
Like I said, this is a so-so movie. It isn't bad, but it's made me want to check out the original to see what intrigued the producers so much the saw the need to screw it up. [ES] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of: