Dir. Alex Herron (2023)
A tragic accident that claimed the life of a teenage girl leaves her three friends' lives in disarray. There may be more to the story, and someone may be out to seek revenge.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
I made it no secret that I wasn't a huge fan of director Alex Herron's previous film Leave, a Shudder exclusive that fell a little flat despite having a really unique premise. His new movie is a different beast altogether. Despite having a relatively commonplace plot (people who may be guilty of someone's accidental death and a common thread seeking vengeance), Dark Windows is chilling, genuinely scary at times, and has one of the best and most well-done third acts in recent memory. What could have been either a ghostly tale of guilt or a stalker-fueled slasher film instead becomes a little of both and is all the better for it.
The film opens at a devastatingly sad remembrance of teenager Allison, who died in a car crash that her friends Tilly (Anna Bullard), Monica (Annie Hamilton), and Peter (Rory Alexander) survived. As tensions are raised and Tilly, who was allegedly driving the car, is blamed by Allison's family for her death, the teens decide to take a getaway at Monica's grandparent's summerhouse. Once there, they begin to hear strange screams in the darkness and begin to believe they are not alone. As the events of the past come into focus, the trio find themselves in danger and must do everything within their power to escape.
Bullard and Hamilton are fantastic throughout the film, both giving nuanced performances that helps to suck the audience into their grief and contrition. The things that go bump in the night are genuinely creepy, and while the film relies perhaps too heavily at times on the prototypical jumpscares, there's usually a reason for them and they did, in fact, cause me to jump out of my skin numerous times. The kicker of the film is definitely the final act, however: while it couldn't really be described as a twist, it was brutal, unflinching, and contains a truly devastating final line of dialogue that will chill you to your core.
I mentioned in my review for Leave that the film didn't feel like it belonged in the horror genre, that it was an attempt that seemed to misinterpret what horror fans crave. Interestingly enough, this film shines in exactly the opposite way that he other one failed. Alex Herron knocks this one out of the park, delivering a film that truly understands what the audience is looking for in a movie like this, filling it to the brim with jumpscares, excellent performances, and a dark, foreboding sense of fear that never goes away. If this is the type of film that Herron is capable of making, I'm definitely down to check out his next one.
Who this movie is for: Home invasion lovers, Jumpscare tolerators, Safe drivers
Bottom line: Great performances and a terrifying ambience brings director Alex Herron's indie home invasion thriller to life. While there are a few shortcomings, notably the overreliance on jumpscares, there are plenty of things to love about the film. Stick around for the ending: it's gritty, ferocious, and it'll hit you right between the teeth. Dark Windows is coming August 18th to select theaters and On Demand, and I highly recommend you demand it.