Movie Review: 'In Darkness' (2018)

A complex thriller with more going on than could ever meet the eye, “In Darkness” is about the things that go on below the surface. Our story centers on Sofia (Natalie Dormer), a blind pianist, who plays as part of an orchestra on a movie or television score. From there we retreat back to her apartment and a burgeoning mystery.

Upon her arrival at the complex, we glean that she has a cordial relationship with the enigmatic Veronique (Emily Ratajkowski); her neighbor from the floor above. The women’s relationship comes to an abrupt halt, when Veronique falls to her death from her balcony window. Questions and an investigation soon follow with Sofia keen on unraveling the mystery.

Right out of the gate, “In Darkness” prepares the audience to not believe what they see and it is this sleight of hand that continually sneaks up on viewers throughout. It is one of mysteries’ best and most used quality and co-writer/director Anthony Byrne does a brilliant job of leveraging that. As “In Darkness” soon reveals, it is a personal saga tied to web after intricate web, each stickier than the other.

Like any good illusion, “In Darkness” is clever, keeping you distracted with what you think you know, and what you deduce you might. The way it navigates its audience is as slick as ice without ever losing its grit. The movie never gets stuck though, its pace moving with a measured and purposeful speed.

As the movie descends into its various acts, it takes on different skins, evolving into one version before evolving into the next. It is part mystery and thriller with a strong character driven momentum that is unyielding. Helping surge interest is the inscrutable, alluring, and downright spellbinding performance of the movie’s co-writer, Natalie Dormer.

As Sofia, Dormer's wheels are always turning without spinning out of place. And in a demonstration of her acting prowess, she says a lot without saying anything at all; breadcrumbs that correctly allude to an all-elusive truth. Holding her own with Dormer is Joely Richardson, whose performance as the cutthroat Alex is another brilliant turn in a sea of strong ones. Actors Neil Maskell and Jan Bijvoet also give memorable performances.

Director Anthony Byrne makes the most of the script’s slow-build before going full-tilt in the third act. And its revelations leave the audience with a lot to sift through in its aftermath. As suspicions are met with facts and the movie is met with hindsight, the story has to deal with the scrutiny that comes with that renewed perspective.

While “In Darkness” does an outstanding job surviving close inspection, one particular puzzle piece is especially difficult to fit. It is not enough to destabilize the entire film thanks to its inclusion seeming purposeful. What that purpose is, remains a mystery though.

A concise thriller that is character driven and not obvious in any sense, “In Darkness” is a winner. As it is packed with enough twists and turns to keep your mind churning well after the screen dims and its credits roll.

Rating: 7.8/10

[Featured Image by 42 Production/XYZ Films/Vertical Entertainment]

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