Dark Forces review – horror meets erotica in this ghoulish Netflix outing

August 21, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
2

Summary

Dark Forces is an enticing blend of genres, but a rushed, convoluted screenplay, bad CGI, and a try-hard sensibility ensure its hotel setting is a two-star affair.

2

Summary

Dark Forces is an enticing blend of genres, but a rushed, convoluted screenplay, bad CGI, and a try-hard sensibility ensure its hotel setting is a two-star affair.

Writer-director Bernardo Arellano’s Dark Forces is the latest international horror movie to grace the diverse thumbnails of Netflix, but it’s also a bit more besides, for better and worse. The plot, which follows Franco (Tenoch Huerta), a renegade wrong-‘un whose search for his missing sister takes him to a sordid, dilapidated hotel of the type seen in many similar movies, looks to be following the typical haunted-house beats. But a plethora of badly-rendered and ill-explained vampiric monstrosities, a sexy love affair, and an overabundance of convoluted worldbuilding take it off the beaten path very shortly into its constrained 80-minute runtime.

Dark Forces clearly has more ideas than that runtime can accommodate, and many elements crop up with little explanation or clarification. But far from deliberate, skillful obfuscation, these ideas just feel as if their context has been excised to make room for more CGI monstrosities and unsettling imagery – not to mention a good helping of sex, seemingly just because. Keeping track of the plot as it lurches back and forth and ventures in and out of peoples’ mouths in an exercise of befuddlement and frustration; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that this film began as a pitch for a TV series.

So much head-scratching is necessary here that the logical assumption is that plot and worldbuilding were shelved for awkward sexy time and choppily-arranged scares. Both of those things have a faint try-hard whiff, as though Dark Forces is endeavoring to be as unpleasant as possible with annoyingly few concerns for logical consistency or the basics of suspense-building. Lots of lore is left to simmer in the margins, again not deliberately, but as an afterthought. The efforts to create the impression of a much busier and more meaningful movie don’t go unnoticed, though they ironically detract from the plot that Dark Forces did actually bother to include.

Tenoch Huerta, late of Netflix’s own Narcos: Mexico, remains an enigmatic bright spot in this grim but intermittently well-shot affair, though some game performances hardly seem like enough to elevate this dud beyond the levels of attention-seeking mediocrity.


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