Coming Home in the Dark is director James Ashcroft’s first feature length film. In this road-trip-from-hell road movie, Hoaggie (Erik Thomson) and Jill’s (Miriama McDowell) family vacation is torn to pieces as Mandrake (Daniel Gillies) and Tubs (Matthias Luafutu) – his stoic associate – stalk the family. It’s a wrong place, wrong time situation and that’s just the beginning of this story.
The rate of how quickly things escalate for Hoaggie’s family vacation is shocking. The story here is pretty thin, but Gillies does a lot of the heavy lifting as the domineering villain. His ruthless actions are hard to watch at times, but, like Hoaggie and Jill, the audience doesn’t have much choice. McDowell as Jill turns in an uncomfortable performance, and I mean that in the best way possible. This movie crushes her character, and her reactions to these events is so intense it’s almost tangible. The confined space of the car only adds to the dread.
This movie is as beautiful as it is intimately brutal, and the only gripe I had with this movie is the plot point about Hoaggie’s past. The story fails to draw enough of a parallel between Hoaggie and Mandrake. By the final act, Mandrake has done such awful things that by comparison Hoaggie is still the victim. Ashcroft attempts to articulate the theme that no one is innocent in this story, but that ends up murky at best in this gut-wrenching experience.
Additional Comments: The Big Comic Page was provided a screener of the movie. A behind the scenes featurette is included on the Blu-ray and DVD which is available November 9th.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511