Out of Darkness
Photograph: Signature Entertainment
  • Film
  • Recommended


Out of Darkness

4 out of 5 stars

Stone Age settlers encounter evil in 45,000 BC’s answer to The Blair Witch Project

Phil de Semlyen

Time Out says

This clever entry to the things-get-freaky-in-the-woods horror canon – fellow entries: The Blair Witch Project, Dog Soldiers, The Witch, The Ritual – turns the clock back to the misty, starvation-stalked days of early man, where a band of hunter-gatherers find themselves hunted, and in one case, gathered, by something deeply malevolent. 

Actually, it’s an early woman who gives the film its spine. Extraordinary’s Safia Oakley-Green plays Beyah, a fierce ‘stray’ reluctantly adopted by a small group of nomads traversing this unpromising country to find sanctuary. She gets a few crumbs of solidarity and welcome from Kit Young’s earnest wannabe-warrior that are noticeably absent from Chuku Modu’s brooding alpha and the rest of the group.

Out of Darkness wisely dedicates its early scenes to establishing that tense dynamic. These Paleolithic travellers need each other… but how much? The small fault lines quickly become chasms when the nastiness breaks out. As an outsider, Beyah is the most vulnerable once they step into a forest that seems to hold some kind of demonic presence.

 Why not risk death by demon when the exposure will get you anyway?

Debut director Andrew Cumming makes full use of landscape and time period. Horror often has a problem with characters’ annoyingly faulty decision-making; here, their hierarchy of needs, with food and shelter to the fore, makes self-endangering choices more than believable. Why not risk death by demon when the exposure and hunger will get you anyway?

Neil Marshall’s brilliant caving horror The Descent is another lodestar here, and the jolting camerawork, supremely creepy sound design, and shadowy forests of Scotland’s Highlands help replicate some of the same claustrophobic thrills. 

If the final reveal is something of a letdown, Cummings and screenwriter Greenberg have ambitions beyond the standard bloody showdown as a climax. It’s anthropology, not violence, that provides the sting in the tail – a thought-provoking coda to an often pulse-pounding survival horror. 

In UK cinemas Feb 23.

Cast and crew

  • Director:Andrew Cumming
  • Screenwriter:Ruth Greenberg
  • Cast:
    • Safia Oakley-Green
    • Kit Young
    • Chuku Modu
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