Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Horror Thoughts ‘12—Daylight (2010) ***½

NR, 75 min.
Director: David Barker
Writers: David Barker, Michael Godere, Alexandra Meierhans, Ivan Martin (additional dialogue)
Starring: Alexandra Meierhans, Ivan Martin, Michael Godere, Aidan Redmond, Brian Bickerstaff

The indie film “Daylight” kicks off our Horror Thoughts features for the month of October after the feature film “Hotel Transylvania” kicked off the entire Horrorfest. No two films could be more different. Well, that’s not really true. A David Lynch film might’ve been more different than a family friendly comedy involving classic horror monsters, but the 2010 film “Daylight” certainly steers us into darker waters.

“Daylight” tells the story of a couple going to a wedding. She’s pregnant, and they seem to be having some marital difficulties. They become lost in the country on the way to the wedding and stop to ask a hitchhiker for directions. He agrees for a ride.

Since this is Horrorfest, you probably already guessed that he’s not just a hitchhiker. He holds them at knifepoint until they pick up a second stranger in league with the first hitchhiker. They take the couple to a country estate. They seem to only want the couple’s expensive car. But, they’re willing to kill for it until the husband bargains for his life, offering ransom money from his wife’s wealthy parents.

But I’ve already gone on too long about the plot. This is one of those movies that isn’t really about plot. It’s about the characters. It’s about emotions. Director David Barker peppers his story with flashbacks for the wife. These are merely snippets and impressions of events that occurred recently to her. She isn’t religious, but she seems to be struggling to find some faith. The kidnapping might seem like something that shatters any possibilities of faith, but she seems to find more strength as her ordeal continues on. One of the kidnappers is empathetic toward her; the other is a psychopath.

The filmmakers do a great job exploring the emotions of these three characters. The husband is removed by a third kidnapper and doesn’t really factor into the events. This is the wife’s ordeal. It is her search for hope or salvation. The criminals are lost, but don’t know it. The filmmakers create a harrowing experience and an ethereal one. They put us so close in the woman’s shoes, we find ourselves considering only the details that this pregnant woman would. How likely is escape, really? Do you play the men against each other? How much seduction is a pregnant woman capable of? Am I going to die? Will my baby live?

“Daylight” is such a specific experience. That’s something that cannot be said for most horror movies or mainstream movies of any kind. In an industry that relies on formula for the sure sale, “Daylight” is a unique experience that will terrorize its audience in a very personal way. 

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