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Have you ever felt like watching a horror film, but couldn’t decide if you should choose a film about zombies, vampires, parasitic machines, the anti-Christ, or the apocalypse? Thanks to “Edges of Darkness,” you no longer have to make a choice, because this indie film contains ALL of these elements in one place.
The film opens with a few quotes from the Bible, more specifically the “Book of Revelation” – The writers add an –s to the end of this word, which irritates me beyond sanity – and this tells us that a) this is an end of times film and b) we’ll be seeing some zombies. And we do. A group of them are noshing on all sorts of bloody body parts with great relish. Many extreme close-ups are added for a gross out effect. In this zombie throng is Heather (Michelle Rose), a Lara Croft look-alike who is touted as a “warrior.” She saves a mother (Kelly Murray) and her young son and takes them back to her apartment. Later in the film, she will tangle with several bad acting, literally and figuratively, priests who are looking for this boy.
In another apartment, we find Dean (Jay Costelo) and his wife, Dana (Alisha Gaddis). Despite the fact that zombies are roaming outside, he’s obliviously and slavishly writing on his computer, much to the dismay of his neglected wife. It is within this tale that we get a kind of “Little Shop of Horrors” homage, with a computer that needs to be “fed.” The vampire slant occurs in another apartment, where Stan (Alonzo F. Jones) lives with his wife, Stellie (Shamika Ann Franklin). After roaming around the city, he brings home Natalie (Annemarie Pazmino), who is essentially “lunch.” The couple will keep her alive so that they can feed off of her. But something isn’t right with her blood, and she turns the tables on them.
First off, let me say that I respect anyone who manages to get an independent film made. According to imdb.com, “Edges of Darkness” cost about $200,000, and everything from the cinematography to choreographed fights look professional. The gore factor is also pretty high; several scenes had me wincing. However, less is typically more, not more is more. The script is mind-boggling in its attempt to cover all genres. Just when you think you’re watching an homage to “Night of the Living Dead,” it switches gears to an urban vampire film that becomes slightly reminiscent of Abel Ferrara’s “The Addiction,” without the philosophical babble. Then it’s a kind of “Resident Evil” meets “The Exorcist.” My head was swimming from it all. In fact, the reason I felt compelled to finish watching it was to see how it would end. (Do the stories converge? Not really.)
“Edges of Darkness” is the labor of love of Blaine Cade and Jason Horton, who share directing and writing credits, and I don’t doubt that they put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into this film. Unfortunately, sometimes when you are so close to a project, you can’t see that cuts need to be made. “Edges of Darkness” would benefit from some judicious editing. In fact, I would jettison all of the stories except for the vampire one, because at least it seemed “fresher” than the others. It was also the only one I wanted to see more of. Because it wasn’t given time to develop, it left behind too many unresolved issues. Who was Natalie? Why was her blood making them sick? Why were these people vampires in the first place? I actually wondered if their “sickness” was supposed to be a metaphor for addiction. But if so, this more “sophisticated” story seemed out of place, especially since the others relied mostly on shock value.
Why jettison the other stories? Anti-Christ films are a dime a dozen and are rarely done well. The priests were also simply ridiculous. For the most part, if you’ve seen one zombie film, you’ve seen them all. (“28 Days Later” might prove the exception.) I’ve never understand the “fear factor” of zombies. As for story about the horribly mismatched couple with a parasitic computer – that was the absolute worst one to watch. His character was such a waste of cinematic space that the only way to enliven this story was to make the wife homicidal. “Type this,” she could have said as she broadsided him with a pickaxe.
Low budget films aren’t usually known for their award-winning dialogue or fine acting, and “Edges of Darkness” conforms to the standard. The dialogue never feels “real,” and the acting is pretty wooden. That said, I can see several of these actors advancing in their careers. Pazmino has that exotic, Gothic look that has become vogue, thanks to fellow skinny girl Angelina Jolie. Her range of emotions, from scared to confident, was also noteworthy. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing this entrancing woman again. Jones is a poor man’s Samuel L. Jackson, and even though his expletive-filled dialogue felt stereotypical and rehearsed, he exuded charisma and promise. And finally, Rose is a statuesque beauty who looks like she could grace the cover of “Maxim.” If she takes some acting lessons and is choosier with her scripts, she might find herself getting Milla Jovovich’s rejects.
As for the writer/directors, everyone has to start somewhere. If “Edges of Darkness” was in a university student film competition, it would probably win the grand prize, and it might garner some film festival awards. But it’s not really anything above a B-level, straight-to-video product. A lot of horror fans aren’t very discriminating, though, and it might seem different enough to get a cult following. For me, it’s too unfocused to warrant a recommendation.
Blaine Cade, Jason Horton (director) / Blaine Cade, Jason Horton (screenplay)
CAST: Annemarie Pazmino … Natalie
Shamika Ann Franklin … Stellie
Alonzo F. Jones … Stan
Michelle Rose … Heather
Kelly Murray … Shamika
Jay Costelo … Dean
Alisha Gaddis … Dana