Out of Darkness cast staring off into the distance | Agents of Fandom

‘Out of Darkness’ Review: A Bone-Crushing Primordial Horror

The prehistoric horror film explores the eternally linked archival fears between man and monster.

Monsters have been living in and among us for the past 45,000 years. Out of Darkness, the new prehistoric horror film from British director Andrew Cumming, explores that theme with a foreboding sense of mythical fear that, while at times too lofty for its own good, posits fascinating context around the “What’s in that dark forest?” horror subgenre.

‘Out of Darkness’ Review: A New Twist on a Classic Horror Subgenre

Beyah (Sofia Oakley-Green) stands watch with a sharp spear in search of monsters beyond her view in Out of Darkness. I Agents of Fandom
Beyah stands watch for monsters beyond her view in Out of Darkness. Image Credit: Signature Entertainment.

Beyah (Safia Oakley-Green) and her family are continuing on their enduring journey to find food and shelter across the bleak and brooding landscape of which they are traversing. Plagued by the cold and dark, they resort to huddling around a fire, telling mythical tales of evil creatures too scary for reality. That is until one of them is swiftly stolen in the night by the beast (or beasts) surrounding them, prompting a search and rescue quest to transpire.

Following the attested footsteps of prior genre films such as A24’s The Witch and It Comes At Night, the setting of a sinister forest near the family propels this straightforward creature feature into a brooding and bone-crushing primordial tale of the human spirit. As the family enters the neighboring wicked woodlands, they begin to be picked off one by one in classical slasher style which offers a fun change of setting on the tried-and-true trope.

Things are quickly not as they seem as they are forced to reckon with a seemingly ritualistic stage the fiend has constructed and what that might imply for their fate. The film takes a shrewd detour in allowing each character to contemplate the faithfulness of their friendship to one another, conceiving a premise in which the main theme of the film — who is the real monster — is put to the test.

‘Out of Darkness’ Is a Thinly Stretched Yet Well-Crafted Horror Film

Smoke rises just beyond a rock in which a member of Beyah's family investigates. I Agents of Fandom
Out of Darkness effectively uses its vast, barren landscapes and dreary color palette to amplify its horror elements. Image Credit: Signature Entertainment.

Both the sound design and the score, created by Adam Janota Bzowski, act as navigating forces during the film with the arresting and persistent drum beat personifying the movements of the shadowy threat just beyond vision. The crucial sound design of a movie like this can make or break the entire experience and in this case, helps solidify its success.

The script, written by Ruth Greenberg, stretches a little thin as the nightmarish horror that is impending on Beyah and her family morphs into a story that shifts its focus to that of human tragedy and evolutionary habits. In that sense, the final act of the film feels like a slight departure from the first two acts that work so well as a clean and clear monster horror. It is indeed commendable that a film of this ancient nature, with a short runtime of just 87 minutes, expands its already sumptuous horizons to tackle such noble themes.

Visually enchanting, Out of Darkness works its very hardest to arrive at an answer to the archaic question that’s haunted the human race for eons: Are we the very monster that we have been so afraid of for so long? A survivalist question that handily works on multiple planes of reflection and is both visually and thematically represented throughout the film. Although the editing — and at times slowed pace — of this horror flick refuses to generate the necessary tension to take a tale like this to the next level, Out of Darkness succeeds overall and is a solid entry into the darkness-fueled subgenre of movies.

Out of Darkness releases in U.S. theaters on February 9, 2024. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for the latest entertainment news, reviews, and interviews.

'Out of Darkness' Review

'Out of Darkness' Review
3.5 5 0 1
3.5 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • The dark and foreboding sense of horror is communicated effectively and viscerally.
  • It strives to be something more than a standard monster horror flick.

The Bad

  • It stretches its themes too thin in trying to answer lofty, human-centric questions.
  • Minimal character focus sees the final act fizzle in its attempt to be renowned.
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