Life Lesson #58: Just avoid any cabin in a secluded wooded area.
John Whitmore (John McGlothlin) wakes up one morning to find that his wife has been kidnapped, and is being held for ransom at a secluded cabin in the woods. If he wants to see her alive again, John must bring his life’s savings to the cabin before midnight; and oh yeah, if he calls the police, she’ll die. No pressure at all.
First off, I have to say that Dusk is a fantastic movie! Written and directed by Michael Maney, who needs to do more of this kind of film making, and as often as possible. I didn’t know what to expect when I requested this DVD to review, but let me tell you I was pleasantly surprised by this wonderfully original, and nail bitter of a film.
I have to be very careful not to give away any spoilers, because like me, I would love for you to see Dusk without having a clue how this story will end —and believe me, you’ll want to see it that way.
So treading lightly I’ll tell you this much; Dusk opens with John Whitmore in the midst of a very scary dream. In this dream, he is on his way to his family’s cabin to meet his wife, but gets lost on the way —which is just cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs since he’s been going the cabin since he was a kid. After seeing a very frightening image of someone or something, John wakes up in a panic, but at least he’s in the safety of his own home.
John’s wife Anne (Juliana Harkavy) isn’t in the bed next to him, and when he searches the house for her, what he finds is a tape recording with ransom demands and instructions on what to do if he ever wants to see his wife alive again. And folks, this is where the film kicks into high gear and never lets up until the very end.
Interspersed with scenes of a terrified John trying to get his wife back, are moments where he is remembering his life with Anne, and hoping to see her again soon. We are going through this terrible time with John, and the audience is just as in the dark about all of it as he is.
On top of everything else, John is experiencing blackouts, and having bizarre visions of things that make little sense —so we’re not even sure if John has all his marbles. And his best friend Sam (Todd Litzinger), who John brings along for backup, isn’t sure if his old buddy is all there either.
McGlothlin holds his own as the main focus of Dusk, and Harkavy is excellent as well, just as she was in another favorite film of mine called Last Shift. If she keeps this up, Harkavy may go from fabulous indy actress, to the big leagues in no time flat.
This cast of unknowns are very impressive. Dusk is a complex tale, and if the acting is subpar, I don’t think it’s as effective a movie, even with the stellar writing of Maney. Thankfully all the pieces fit together in a nice cohesive bundle of movie magnificence that I just loved.
I know I didn’t give you much in the way of plot, just believe me when I say, I would be doing you a disservice if I revealed too much of Dusk. Don’t let that independent label deter you from seeing this top notch film. Michael Maney appears to be a writer/director that has a keen eye for movie making, and I for one look forward to seeing more from him hopefully in the near future.
Dusk is a crystal clear 1.85:1 presentation, where even the night scenes are sharp and easy to see. The Dolby Stereo audio is a wonderful accompaniment to the film, with a pleasantly unobtrusive soundtrack. It would have been fantastic to see some behind the scenes featurettes from Dusk, but this is a bare bones release with not one special feature.
I absolutely love, love, love when I stumble upon these kinds of movie gems. Dusk is as a truly stellar film that will steer you in one direction, yet leave you in a place you might never expect, but will certainly enjoy.
Not even remotely Guilty.